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$6M supports transatlantic cardiovascular disease project


Montreal, QC – A new project to study PCSK9 protein function and its impact on cardiovascular disease is receiving $6 million in funding over five years from the Fondation Leducq. The team, coordinated by IRCM researcher Dr. Nabil G. Seidah, has been formed to answer this question.

Dr. Seidah is a pioneer in the field of research on PCSK9, the ninth member of the proprotein convertase family that was discovered in his laboratory. In 2003, his team, in collaboration with French researchers, discovered that PCSK9 plays a key role in regulating cholesterol.

“We now know that PCSK9 regulates bad cholesterol, known as LDL-cholesterol,” said Dr. Seidah, director of the biochemical neuroendocrinology research unit at the IRCM. “We believe that inhibiting the function of PCSK9 can lower LDL-cholesterol levels. Clinical trials are currently underway to test PCSK9-inhibitors that could eventually supplement or even replace statins, the most prescribed cholesterol-lowering drug.”

“However, we still do not understand exactly how PSCK9 functions,” he added. “How does this protein act and what are the risks associated to its inhibition? These are questions our research team will attempt to answer, which is precisely why the Fondation Leducq decided to support our project. In fact, we will focus on the understanding of this protein’s biology and its role in hypercholesterolemia and cardiovascular disease.”

To tackle this issue, Dr. Seidah assembled an international, multidisciplinary team of experts. The researchers will address many of the current knowledge gaps surrounding PCSK9 biology. This collaboration between scientists with an extensive track record in the study of PCSK9 represents a true working synergy between existing successful laboratories that will result in the integration of a critical mass of knowledge for the benefit of patients and society.

“By combining state-of-the-art technologies and extensive clinical expertise, the research team will define the functions and physiological roles of PCSK9 in relation to risk, manifestations and management of cardiovascular disease,” he said.

“The knowledge generated by this project will have an immense impact on the understanding and treatment of cardiovascular disease, and will be highly valuable to develop new therapeutic approaches,” said Dr. David Tancredi, Fondation Leducq’s scientific director.