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Harper Government Supports Health Care Innovation

Single-Largest Investor in Canadian Health Innovation

For immediate release –2012-36

London, Ontario (July 20,2012) – The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, visited with researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) today where she highlighted how Harper Government investments are helping strengthen healthcare across the country. Lawson is the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Joseph’s Health Care London. The Minister also toured research labs at LHSC’s Victoria Hospital.

“Our Government is proud to support the outstanding work of health researchers across Canada,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “Canadians expect us to play a leadership role in healthcare, and we are doing exactly that by investing in people who will help find new treatments for patients, make the health system more efficient, and help more Canadians avoid going to hospitals in the first place.”There are more than 10,000 health research projects underway in Canada right now that receive Harper Government funding. Some recent initiatives announced include:

• Pathways to Health Equity for Aboriginal Peoples, in which researchers will partner with aboriginal communities to carry out initiatives linked to suicide reduction and other key health priorities;
• Funding 13 projects to improve the efficiency of front-line healthcare delivery, whose results will be available for provincial and territorial governments to use to strengthen their systems; and
• Funding for a national transplantation research program.

Minister Aglukkaq met with Pamela Zabel and Dr. Muriel Brackstone, two researchers at Lawson. With their colleagues and federal financial support, Zabel and Brackstone’s work resulted in new ways for imaging breast cancer tumours that makes more efficient use of the medical isotope Technetium-99m. While conserving the supply of Technetium 99-m, the product assists surgeons operating on breast cancer patients, allowing for less invasive surgery and fewer complications.

According to Dr. Brackstone, “Technetium is a radioactive product that has become critical in breast cancer and melanoma surgeries to look for cancer spread to lymph nodes. It is also used in a number of imaging tests for the detection of cancer spread to other parts of the body. We have been able to demonstrate that a new technetium product works as well if not better than the currently available one, without requiring filtration where 70-90% of the precious technetium is wasted.”

“Our specialized product was patented due to its optimal sizing formulation,” says Zabel. “Extensive testing has been done and clinical trial submissions have been authorized with Health Canada. A commercial manufacturer is now sought to bring this product to market. CIHR funding is critical to bringing new clinical agents to Canadian patients and assessing their clinical utility.”

Federal support for health research primarily flows through its health research investment agency – the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). CIHR supports the best in peer-reviewed health research with the vision of creating a healthier future for Canadians.

“Canadian health researchers across all research disciplines and themes continue to have a significant impact on the country’s international scientific excellence and competitiveness,” said Dr. Alain Beaudet, President of CIHR. “At CIHR, we prize the many achievements and contributions our researchers make to resolving pressing health challenges and to improving the health outcomes of patients and supporting a robust and sustainable health care system.”

Fact Sheet

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Further Information:

Cailin Rodgers, Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, 613-957-0200
David Coulombe, CIHR Media Relations, 613-941-4563