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Asper Foundation, St. Boniface Hospital Foundation and Province of Manitoba fund initiative to improve cardiac outcomes for cancer patients

FEBRUARY 8, 2013 (WINNIPEG, MB) – St. Boniface Hospital (SBH) and Mayo Clinic today announced a research collaboration that involves an exchange of scientists and the establishment of multi-centre clinical trials aimed at improving cardiac outcomes for cancer patients. The collaboration has been made possible through a $1 million donation from the Asper Foundation to Mayo Clinic in 2001 to establish an endowment fund to support collaborations with SBH. St. Boniface Hospital Foundation and the Province of Manitoba have further supported the collaboration through the Science, Technology and International Collaboration (STIC) Fund.

“The Asper Foundation is proud to support innovation and excellence in research between the St. Boniface Hospital and Mayo Clinic,” says David Asper. “This fund was developed to create world class opportunities for local researchers to partner with our friends at Mayo on initiatives that would otherwise not be possible, and will ultimately improve health care in Manitoba and beyond.”

The first of two SBH/Mayo Clinic studies will be led by Dr. Davinder Jassal, Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Manitoba, and Dr. Sharon Mulvagh, Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic and Director of the Mayo Clinic Women’s Heart Clinic. The multi-centre clinical study will follow 100 cancer patients in Winnipeg, Manitoba and Rochester, Minnesota, to assess if serial cardiac biomarkers (blood tests) and echocardiograms can detect early evidence of heart damage in patients taking Bevacizumab (Avastin) or Sunitinib (Sutent) for colorectal or kidney cancer.

While the two drugs have been shown to improve long-term outcomes for colorectal and kidney cancer patients, they may also increase the risk of developing heart failure. Early detection of changes in the pumping function of the heart may give doctors information and additional time to adjust the course of treatment for patients susceptible to the cardiac side effects of these chemotherapeutic drugs, which may help prevent irreversible heart damage.

“This is key to being able to assure longer-term survivorship,” adds Dr. Mulvagh. “And it is through studies such as these that our institutions will jointly be able todetermine the best approaches to optimizing care for our cancer patients.”

The Avastin and Sutent Induced Cardiotoxicity Study (ASICS) will begin February 1, 2013, and is anticipated to conclude in 2015.

“This grant was selected from a number of applications submitted by many Mayo Clinic and St. Boniface Hospital scientists,” says Dr. Grant Pierce, Executive Director of Research for SBH. “The review process gave us the best of the best. It is our hope that this is just the starting point for much more international collaboration.”

“Mayo Clinic and the Province of Manitoba have a long history together. The generosity of the Asper Foundation has laid the cornerstone for an exciting new relationship,” says Charanjit S. Rihal, M.D., Chair, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic. “Researchers and clinicians from both sides of the border will collaborate on research projects that will advance medical knowledge and patient care. We at Mayo Clinic are excited to work even moreclosely with our colleagues at St Boniface Hospital.”

“The Asper Foundation’s visionary gift will have a far reaching impact. Not only will it improve research opportunities for both St.Boniface Hospital and the Mayo Clinic, it will also promote an exchange of knowledge and technology, and support Winnipeg’s international standing as a centre of research excellence,” says Chuck LaFlèche, President & CEO, St. Boniface Hospital Foundation. “The legacy they have built at St. Boniface Hospital is a foundation on which we are building a healthier Manitoba, and a healthier world.”

For more information, contact:
Laura Ruddock
Director of Communications
St. Boniface Hospital Foundation
Ph. (204) 235-3966 Fax (204) 231-0041

News Release (EN, PDF)
News Release (FR, PDF)