Research & Development
$5.7M investment for better treatment of sepsis
July 29, 2020
HAMILTON, Ont. – An investment of $5.7 million from the Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), will support a new national research network – Sepsis Canada – to improve the treatment and recovery of sepsis patients.
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that results from an out-of-control immune response to an infection that may lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. Children, seniors, those with chronic health conditions like diabetes, cancer or immunodeficiency, and members of certain groups such as Indigenous Peoples, new immigrants to Canada, and those with unstable housing are especially vulnerable.
The source of infection in sepsis can be a microbial pathogen such as a virus or bacterium. The new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is now on the list of pathogens that cause sepsis. Most patients critically ill with COVID-19 develop sepsis, which becomes a major threat to their survival.
Led by Dr. Alison Fox-Robichaud (pictured), Sepsis Canada will track and study treatments for septic patients, and develop a bank of evidence-based tools to educate the public and healthcare professionals about how to best prevent, diagnose and manage sepsis. The network will also collect data that will give a true understanding of the burden of sepsis in Canada. A recent global report published in the journal Lancet estimated that 75,000 cases of sepsis occur in Canada every year, likely causing 18,000 deaths.
“Canadians should be aware that sepsis, a life-threatening response to an infection, is a global health issue and never is this more apparent than during the current pandemic,” said Dr. Fox-Robichaud, scientific director, Sepsis Canada and a professor at McMaster University.
“Our team of scientists, knowledge users, patient and family members and partners are prepared to change the story within our country. We will do this by better understanding the epidemiological and financial burden of sepsis in Canada, and by understanding and improving the long-term outcomes of sepsis survivors.”
The team intends to improve the understanding the complex interactions between predisposing conditions, the infections that cause sepsis and the immune-system response, and to discover new evidence-based cost-effective therapies.
“Sepsis is a serious and complex medical condition that is best addressed using a muti -disciplinary team approach,” said Dr. Brian Rowe, scientific director, CIHR Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health. “By bringing together healthcare workers, researchers, patients and advocates, the CIHR support for Sepsis Canada will help ensure that we find the most effective and enduring approaches to mitigate this critical and long-standing health challenge.”