Discoveries and highlights in 2017 at the CHUM research centre, leader in health research.
JANuary: Seeking organ
Faced with the organ shortage, an increasing number of patients waiting for an organ transplant decide to turn to media channels, both traditional and social, in search of living donors. Dr. Marie-Chantal Fortin, a transplant nephrologist and researcher at the CHUM, is the lead author of the first Canadian guidelines to govern this practice. They were published in the journal Transplantation in January 2017.
February: Cardiac storms
Shoveling the snow is a demanding cardiovascular activity, not without risk. A study led by Dr. Nathalie Auger and published in February 2017 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal associates significant snowfalls with a higher risk of hospital admission for heart attack, or myocardial infarction, particularly in men.
More than half of Canadian family doctors still use manual devices to measure blood pressure, an outdated technology that sometimes leads to misdiagnosis. A study by Janusz Kaczorowski that appeared in the March 2017 issue of Canadian Family Physician concluded that 20% of people being treated for high blood pressure do not actually have the problem and do not need medication.
April: The age of infertility
Age-related female infertility could be explained by a defect in the choreography of chromosome sharing during cell division in eggs before they are fertilized. This breakthrough by Greg FitzHarris’s team published in April 2017 in Current Biology may one day lead to new fertility treatments to help women become pregnant and carry a pregnancy to term.
In Canada, one in four women delivers by caesarean section. A training program to improve obstetrical management reduced the number of medically unjustified caesareans and generated significant savings for the healthcare system in Quebec, in addition to improving the quality of healthcare provided to mothers and babies. This is the conclusion of a research study led by Mira Johri, published in May in BMC Medicine.
An intraoperative probe developed by Frederic Leblond and Kevin Petrecca (McGill) allows the surgeon to accurately detect cancer cells in real time during brain surgery. A study published in June 2017 in Cancer Research concludes that this tool is exceptionally performing. The probe could be used in the future to help cancer surgeries and therefore prolong the survival of people with cancer.
JUly: Wanted: students!
During the summer of 2017, the CRCHUM led a recruitment campaign for future researchers. No fewer than 115 people came to visit our research centre on September 9, in a first Open house for students aspiring to pursue graduate studies in health. Next Open house for future students: September 22, 2018.
August: HIV-AIDS: Following your gut
Petronela Ancuta’s team finds a way to reduce replication of the AIDS virus in the gastrointestinal tract. This advance, published in August 2017 in JCI Insight, might well lead to the development of a new therapeutic strategy to supplement antiretroviral therapy (ART), improving the control of viral replication in HIV-infected persons and preventing complications associated with chronic infection.
SEPTEMBer: Cancer treatment: Bringing patients onboard
A small revolution in health care. In a new project co-directed by Dr. Marie-Pascale Pomey, ex-patients will join oncology teams at six Quebec health institutions. With $1 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, PAROLE-Onco will evaluate the effects of integrating patient-partners into health care teams, at both the clinical and organizational levels.
OCTOBer: A data warehouse at the CHUM
The CRCHUM has announced the creation of its health data warehouse. This initiative was disclosed during CONNEXION 2017, a networking cocktail reception held on October 26th. This warehouse will allow the secondary use of health data in order to support the continuous improvement of health care.
NOVEMBer: Hope for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Researchers Pierre Drapeau, Alex Parker and Lawrence Korngut (University of Calgary) discover a promising drug for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In a November 2017 article in JCI Insight, they show that pimozide - a drug currently used for schizophrenia - stabilizes the progression of the disease in the short term. A clinical trial is currently underway to confirm the efficacy and safety of the drug.
Existing treatments for people with cystic fibrosis aren’t always efficient. Emmanuelle Brochiero’s team found that adding molecules called quorum-sensing inhibitors to current drugs not only reduces bacterial production of certain harmful residues, but also restores the efficacy of existing treatments. This breakthrough published in November 2017 in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology paves the way for new personalized therapies.