MONTRÉAL, QC- Canadian Pacific (CP) says it is committing $1 million to help support stem cell research at the CHU Sainte-Justine, and the development of innovative new stem cell technologies to treat congenital heart defects in children.
Specifically, the funding will go to helping create Quebec’s first platform for stem cell research and pediatric regenerative medicine.
“These funds will allow us to purchase new equipment and recruit an additional researcher, which will significantly accelerate essential research, namely the identification of the mechanisms that form the heart and the types of intervention that can halt the progression of cardiac illnesses in children,” stated Dr. Gregor Andelfinger, pediatric cardiologist at the CHU Sainte-Justine and associate research professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Université de Montréal. “Our aim is to put in place biological factory, capable of producing cardiac tissues from stem cells,” he added.
Research remains the best means of understanding, improving the treatment of, and curing congenital heart defects, which are the most commonly occurring birth defects in the world. They affect one in 80 children in Canada every year, many of whom eventually develop fatal heart failure.
“For over a decade, knowledge and understanding about heart defects have grown considerably at the CHU Sainte-Justine, along with the development of new tools for the genetic analysis of families where several family members suffer from a heart defect,” stated Fabrice Brunet, CEO of the CHUM-CHU Sainte-Justine. “Thanks to its team of experts specializing in pediatrics, cardiology, and congenital malformations, the CHU Sainte-Justine is a leader in providing better diagnoses and better targeted therapies to treat congenital heart defects.”
Maud Cohen, CEO of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation, also expressed gratitude for CP’s generous support.
“Not only does this remarkable $1 million gift allow for the development of new cures to help save the lives of thousands of children suffering from cardiovascular diseases, but it will also serve as a driver for future funding,” she said.
According to Keith Creel, CP’s president and CEO, the donation is a way to pursue its broader mission to improve heart health throughout North America, and further leverages its “CP Has Heart” program. The program has donated nearly $10 million to such initiatives since 2014.
“When we learned that the CHU Sainte-Justine was seeking to accelerate stem cell research, an extremely promising avenue for the repair of congenital heart defects, we immediately felt that it was an initiative we wanted to support,” Creel said. He adds that he believes this partnership will significantly improve upon current treatments. “This will ensure that the thousands of babies born with heart defects every year will have a chance to grow up with healthy hearts and live healthy lives,” he concluded.