Dr. Conway invited to co-lead a Canadian Network on Venous Thromboembolism

* This article was written and first posted by UBC Faculty of Medicine News.

Ed ConwayEd Conway, the Director of the UBC Centre for Blood Research (CBR), will co-lead the translational/basic science platform of a new national research network focused on venous thromboembolism (VTE) — the first such network in the world.

The Canadian Venous Thromboembolism Clinical Trials and Outcomes Research Network (CanVECTOR), is receiving $5.2 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Fonds de recherche Québec – Santé (FRQS), and a consortium of public and private funders, including the Faculty of Medicine and UBC’s Office of the Vice President, Research and International.

CanVECTOR’s goal is to reduce VTE occurrence, improve VTE diagnosis and therapeutic management, improve the safety of anticoagulant delivery, and enhance the quality of life of those impacted by VTE.

While anticoagulant drugs have proven to be effective, they are associated with life-threatening bleeding, and involve 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.

In addition to leading the Centre for Blood Research, Dr. Conway, a member of the Life Sciences Institute (LSI) at UBC, explores the mechanisms by which alterations in the coagulation system and innate immunity affect the development of blood vessel disease. His group’s studies are well-aligned with the goals of CanVECTOR.

“There are major gaps in our knowledge as to the mechanisms underlying VTE and, in particular, the associated chronic complications,” says Dr. Conway, a Professor in the Department of Medicine. “This network uniquely brings together scientists, clinicians and a range of other stakeholders from across Canada, with the common goal of preventing and better treating VTE.”

The translational/basic science platform of the Network will be able to tap into large numbers of clinical samples, thereby permitting exploration of “bench to bedside and back” questions. By piggy-backing translational research questions onto clinical studies, the network will then be able to test novel hypotheses on the pathogenesis of VTE and identify new targets for preventing VTE or its complications.

Agnes Lee, a Professor in the Department of Medicine, a member of the CBR and the Medical Director of the Thrombosis Program at UBC, will play a key role in the design and implementation of clinical trials.

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 underscore the value of the investment being made into the CanVECTOR Network.

“VTE is the second most common cardiovascular disorder after heart attack,” said Co-Principal Investigator Susan Kahn, a Professor of Medicine at McGill University and Head of the Centre of Excellence in Thrombosis and Anticoagulation Care (CETAC) at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. “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 project includes 61 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.