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Pfizer announces recipients of research grants focused on transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy in Canada

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Pfizer Canada is proud to announce the recipients of the 2021 Canadian transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM) Medical Research and Quality Improvement Awards, a program that we have developed to award some of Canada’s best and brightest minds with funds for initiatives that aim to improve outcomes and the quality of life of those affected by ATTR-CM.

As a patient-centric organization, we believe that innovation and pushing the traditional limits of partnerships and collaboration is key to improving the understanding of the disease, outcomes and quality of life of patients. The grants we’ve awarded through this program fall into two different categories – research and quality improvement projects.

Through trusted partnerships and collaborations – and a shared urgency and relentless passion to make a difference in patients’ lives – we are committed to supporting programs and initiatives that can benefit the public, advance medical care, and improve patient outcomes.

We are proud to share this year’s winners and the important work they are doing to better the lives of patients.

2021 Research Project Awardees 

The ATTR-CM Research Grant is focused on granting funds to research focused on early identification, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and disease management.  

This year’s recipients include:  

Ottawa Heart Institute, led by Dr. Gary Small and Dr. Benjamin Chow 
ProjectDetection and tracking of transthyretin (ATTR) cardiac amyloid in severe aortic stenosis by computed tomography (CT) defined-myocardial extracellular volume (ECV). This study will explore the use of computed tomography (CT) scans, a routine step in the management of severe aortic stenosis (AS) prior to a transcatheter aortic valve intervention (TAVI), to determine whether it may be used to generate accurate diagnostic and prognostic data and thus assist in the management of patients with severe AS and ATTR cardiac amyloidosis.

CHUM/Quebec Heart and Lung Institute/McGill University Health Centre, led by Dr. François Tournoux, Dr. Philippe Pibarot, and Dr. Michael Chetrit  
Project: Excluding transthyretin cardiac amyloidosis in transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVI) patients by the absence of red flags: a paradigm shift. Patients with ATTR-CM often wander from one specialist to another before arriving at the correct diagnosis. The detection of ATTR-CM is especially difficult in patients with AS because AS and ATTR-CM share several common clinical and echocardiographic features. This project will help physicians detect ATTR-CM in this challenging population, while also allowing patients with mixed diseases (i.e. ATTR-CA + AS) to benefit from early detection of ATTR-CM, in addition to an optimized triage and care trajectory.

Libin Cardiovascular Institute  led by Dr Robert Miller, Dr. Cigdem Akincioglu, Dr. Andrew Crean, Dr. Nowell Fine, Dr. Robert Iwanochko, Dr. Daniel Juneau, Dr. Matthieu Pelletier-Galarneau, Dr. Terrence D Ruddy, Dr. Gary Small, Dr. Glenn Wells, and Dr. Dan Worsley. 
Project: Canadian Cardiac Amyloidosis PyrophosphatE Imaging Registry (CAPER). This project aims to establish a large, representative Canadian registry for pyrophosphate imaging. The registry will act as a mechanism for broader collaboration, participation in multicenter studies, imaging quality control and interpretation, rapidly disseminate knowledge and promote clinical translation of contemporary evidence and novel imaging techniques. No similar registry exists in North America; thus this registry would be a unique data source to address many of the unanswered questions for Canadians with ATTR-CM.

Saint John Regional Hospital, led by Dr. Ansar Hassan, Dr. David Bewick, and Dr. JF Légaré 
Project: Determining the prevalence and outcomes of transthyretin amyloidosis cardiomyopathy-aortic stenosis patients undergoing valve intervention in New Brunswick. This project focuses on determining the prevalence and outcomes of transthyretin amyloidosis cardiomyopathy-aortic stenosis patients undergoing valve intervention in New Brunswick. This study will be the first to examine the co-prevalence and outcomes of AS-ATTR in an elderly Canadian population. The results could help inform new standards of care and/or tailored management of AS-ATTR patients on a provincial level, serving as a model for Canada.

Libin Cardiovascular Institute, University of Calgary, led by Dr. Nowell Fine and Dr. James White  
Project: Cardiac Amyloidosis Recognition from Echocardiography using Artificial Intelligence (CARE-AI). Recent growth and refinement of machine learning (ML) techniques have greatly improved the capability of cardiac imaging modalities to identify signature phenotypic disease patterns, thereby improving diagnostic accuracy. This project will develop and validate a new ML-based algorithm to identify early-stage cardiac amyloidosis from routine transthoracic echocardiogram.  The ML-based algorithm will also help differentiate light chain (AL) versus ATTR cardiac amyloidosis subtypes.

2021 Quality Improvement Awardees 
The Quality Improvement research grant is focused on supporting the development of cardiac amyloid centers that provide leadership, best practices, support and/or training of health care practitioners within a multidisciplinary team environment in order to improve the quality of care for patients with ATTR-CM.

This year’s recipients include:  

University of Calgary, led by Dr. Nowell Fine, Dr. Robert Miller, Dr. Ian Paterson, Dr. Zaeem Siddiqi, Dr Christopher Hahn, and Dr. Jonathan Howlett
Project: A Province-Wide Transthyretin Amyloidosis Cardiomyopathy Care Pathway to Enhance Quality Care Assessment and Delivery in Alberta. The goal of this project is to improve the recognition of ATTR-CM among community healthcare providers by standardizing and expediting patient diagnostic work-up and referral to established academic treatment centers. This project will include the development and implementation of a province-wide amyloidosis care pathway aimed at improving awareness of signs and symptoms of ATTR-CM, diagnostic testing approaches and referral pathways, in collaboration with the AHS Strategic Clinical Networks. It will also help establish provincial benchmarks as well leverage the province-wide electronic medical record system, AHS Connect Care, to implement an amyloidosis order set. ATTR-CM patients across Alberta will benefit from this initiative, which is aimed at reducing time to diagnosis, and importantly, time to treatment initiation. 

UHN, Toronto, led by Dr. Duero, Dr. Diego Delgado, Dr. Yas Moayedi, Dr. Eric Horlick, Dr. Mark Osten, Dr. Mark Iwanochko, Oksana Basovich, and Dr. Natalia Nugaeva
Project: Improving the detection rate of ATTR-CM among patients referred for TAVR: A Quality Improvement Project. In the absence of a systematic screening process, the prevalence of ATTR-CM-AS is likely to be underdiagnosed in the general population. This project seeks to develop a care and screening pathway for ATTR-CM patients who have undergone TAVR at the Toronto General Hospital. The findings of this project could help inform future guidelines for the care of patients with severe aortic stenosis underdoing TAVR. 

CHUM, Montreal, led by Dr. Tournoux  
Project: Commitment of clinical nurses and nurse practitioners in the screening and diagnosis of cardiac amyloidosis. In the past, patients have stated a longing to have their disease explained in a comprehensive way. This project will draw on the respective clinical areas of expertise of nurses and nurse practitioners to implement and assess an innovative process in the screening and diagnosis of cardiac amyloidosis. The involvement of the nurses in the detection and diagnosis of amyloidosis will help improve patient education, accessibility to diagnostic tests, as well as help facilitate access to care and specific treatment.

The valuable and innovative work that these award recipients are doing in ATTR-CM research could greatly benefit patients and systemically improve the disease management. This research will help deepen the understanding of the disease, reduce barriers that limit patients from accessing care, improve outcomes, and ultimately seeks to place better support patients throughout their journey. We are proud to continue partnering with the healthcare community to address areas of unmet medical need, with the ultimate goal to provide Canadians with quality care.

For more information on ATTR-CM and other heart conditions, visit  https://www.heartandstroke.ca/articles/hope-for-a-rare-heart-condition