Montreal – In recognition of the seriousness and prevalence of venous thromboembolism (VTE), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Fonds de recherche Québec – Santé (FRQS), and a consortium of public and private funders, including the Lady Davis Institute (LDI) at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH) and McGill University, and The Ottawa Hospital and University of Ottawa have invested $5.2 million over 5 years to establish the Canadian Venous Thromboembolism Clinical Trials and Outcomes Research Network (to be known as CanVECTOR).
Dr. Susan Kahn and Dr. Marc Rodger are co-principal investigators and directors of the project, the first of its kind in the world. Dr. Kahn is a senior investigator at the LDI and head of the Centre of Excellence in Thrombosis and Anticoagulation Care (CETAC) at the JGH. Dr. Marc Rodger is a senior scientist and head of the Thrombosis Program at The Ottawa Hospital and Chair in Venous Thrombosis at the University of Ottawa.
CanVECTOR’s objectives include reducing VTE occurrence, improving VTE diagnosis and therapeutic management, improving the safety of anticoagulant delivery, and enhancing the quality of life of those impacted by VTE, both in Canada and globally.
“VTE is the second most common cardiovascular disorder after heart attack,” points out Dr. Kahn, a Professor of Medicine at McGilland Tier 1 Canada Research Chair. “Pulmonary embolism, a blood clot to the heart or lungs – the most serious form of VTE – is the third-leading cause of cardiovascular death. Ten percent of patients who suffer pulmonary embolism will die rapidly prior to diagnosis, which highlights the importance of preventing VTE. Moreover, VTE imposes life-long burdens on many patients because it frequently becomes chronic, including recurrent episodes of VTE, the post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS), and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension.”
The cost to treat a single case of acute VTE is more than $10,000. The estimated total burden of VTE and its complications in Canada is at least $600 million per year, not including such indirect costs as loss of productivity that affects patients, families, and society in general. Such data underscores the value of the investment being made into the CanVECTOR Network.
“As prevalent as VTE is, there are important gaps in our knowledge that only focused research can hope to fill,”added Dr. Rodger. “We have yet to identify causal factors for first and recurrent VTE. We observe inconsistent use of proven measures to prevent VTE, as well as limited community expertise in diagnosing and managing VTE and its complications, and limited knowledge of VTE among the general public. There is an urgent need to improve therapeutic options. While anticoagulant drugs have proven to be effective, they are associated with severe adverse effects – namely, life-threatening bleeding. Moreover, the demands they impose on patients include injections, frequent laboratory monitoring, and lifestyle and diet modifications. New oral anticoagulants have recently been developed, but their long-term effectiveness and safety have yet to be determined.”
The project includes sixty-one investigators based at universities spread across nine provinces. Among the participants are clinician-scientists, basic researchers, nurses, health economists, methodologists, as well as patient partners. It is rather innovative to include patients when designing research questions, but crucial as they have unique insight into the aspects of disease that are of most concern to their particular circumstance.
“We are determined to focus on questions that can be translated into clinical practice so that our research will have a direct impact on public health,” said Dr. Kahn.
October 13 is World Thrombosis Day, an event that increases global awareness of thrombosis as an urgent and growing health problem. The chair of the Steering Committee for World Thrombosis Day, Dr. Gary Raskob, Dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma, said, “CanVECTOR will make major contributions to reducing premature death from VTE. This visionary partnership exemplifies the spirit of the World Thrombosis Day movement by bringing together public and private partners, government agencies and private funders, universities and health systems, health professionals and patients, all working toward the common goal of reducing the burden of disease from thrombosis and improving global health.”
Added Dr. Renaldo Battista, Scientific Director of the FRQS, “The FRQS is extremely proud to contribute financial support to this important research initiative into venous thromboembolism.”