Montreal, QC – A new network that will focus on preventing hepatitis C infections and improving the health of those with the disease has been launched with $4.5 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
The network, called the National Collaborative Hepatitis C Network (NCHCN), will be led by Naglaa Shoukry, principal scientist at the CHUM Research Centre (CRCHUM) and associate professor at the Université de Montréal, and will involve more than 60 researchers, health professionals and partners across the country.
Naglaa Shoukry will be working closely with Julie Bruneau, principal scientist at the CRCHUM and professor at the Université de Montréal, who is a principal investigator of the network and will lead the epidemiological research core.
“Our network is guided by the overall goal of eliminating hepatitis C in Canada,” said Dr. Shoukry, who is nominated principal investigator of the NCHCN. “Through a continuous pipeline from discovery to implementation, we intend to reduce transmission of the virus through novel prevention strategies and vaccine development, increase the number of those cured of infection in particular in vulnerable populations through innovative treatment strategies and cascade of care, and improve health outcomes among those living with hepatitis C.”
Other principal investigators include Jordan Feld from the Toronto General Research Institute (TGRI) in Toronto, Mel Krajden from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) in Vancouver, Christopher Richardson from Dalhousie University in Halifax, and Tom Wong from the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada.
It has been estimated that approximately 220,000 people in Canada were living with chronic hepatitis C in 2011 and that nearly half of those individuals may not have been aware they were infected. Viral hepatitis can lead to chronic liver disease which, left untreated, can have serious health consequences including liver failure or cancer.