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PROOF Centre Uses Genome BC Funds for COPD Dx

This article has been updated with the names of the partners providing funding.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Canada's Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF) Centre of Excellence in Vancouver will use C$1.5 million (US$1.5 million) in new funding to develop a biomarker-based test for determining a person's risk for having a lung attack.

Genome BC, Providence Health Care, Siemens Healthcare, and the PROOF Centre provided the funding to support a project to develop a simple blood test that could be performed in any clinical lab and could be used far more widely than the current breathing test, which is performed in certain centers by specially trained personnel.

Lung attacks, which effect individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), are the leading cause of visits to emergency rooms among chronic disease sufferers in Canada, and account for around C$5.7 billion in direct costs nationally each year. COPD consists of two main forms — chronic bronchitis and emphysema — and sufferers usually have a combination of these conditions.

"When someone comes into the hospital with a severe lung attack, it usually takes 100 days to get to 80 percent of his or her baseline health," Don Sin, project leader and head of respiratory medicine at St. Paul's Hospital, said in a statement. "This means that if their health was poor to begin with, the new attack can be devastating, even fatal."

A new test that could more accurately present a patient's disease could make it easier to predict and treat COPD progression, for which there is a "is a huge unmet need," Sin said.

"Our recently discovered genes or protein marker sets that could have the ability to predict COPD-caused lung attacks now must be validated," Bruce McManus, project co-leader and director of the PROOF Centre, said. "We will be able to validate the power of the bio-signatures to identify patients at risk for lung attacks within the next two years."

The PROOF Centre is working with partners at Providence Health Care and at Siemens, and its effort will complement another project at the BC Ministry of Health that will identify lung attack patients at three hospitals and will provide a link between the research and patient care, Genome BC said.

The PROOF Centre, a non-profit that develops and implements blood-based diagnostics, is hosted by the University of British Columbia and is based at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.