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New precision health ‘All for One’ network for the Prairies

March 9, 2021

More than 6,000 patients, primarily children, in the Prairies are affected by inborn errors of metabolism (IEM), rare genetic diseases caused by mutations in either the nuclear or mitochondrial genome. Newly announced funding to set up the Canadian Prairie Metabolic Network (CPMN) will ensure the timely and more cost-effective delivery of innovative and relevant genomic testing in the Prairies.

The $2.1 million in funding was announced today by The Honourable François-Philippe ChampagneMinister of Innovation, Science and Industry, supported through Genome Canada.

“Genomics has enormous potential to improve Canadians’ lives and to advance post-pandemic economic recovery,” said The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Investments, like the one we are making today in genomics research, help keep Canadians healthy and help keep our industries productive, sustainable and competitive globally.”

The project lead is Max Rady College of Medicine Distinguished Professor Dr. Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg (pediatrics and child health; biochemistry and medical genetics) with Petr Kresta, Chief Operating Officer, Diagnostic Services, Shared Health and partners at Genome Prairie and Genome Alberta. Rockman-Greenberg is also a research scientist at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba and an internationally known researcher who has identified the molecular source of some of Manitoba’s most devastating inherited diseases.

“I congratulate Dr. Rockman-Greenberg and the numerous clinician-scientists on this new research team that will join together in this “All for One” partnership,” said Dr. Digvir Jayas, vice-president (research and international) and Distinguished Professor at UM. “The teams’ work with Shared Health will lay the foundation for precision health in the Prairies and Canada.”

CPMN is the fifth regional All for One precision health partnership, making it pan-Canadian, spanning from coast-to-coast. The goal is to improve the health and wellness of Canadians with serious genetic conditions by enabling access to a timely and accurate genomic-based diagnosis. This enables patients to benefit while helping others through the sharing of their clinical and genomic data within a learning health system.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity to develop a Canadian Prairie Metabolic Network,” said Rockman-Greenberg. “We believe that through this clinical network we will demonstrate that a “genomics first” diagnostic approach when considering a hereditary metabolic disorder will greatly enhance the timely care and outcomes for our patients in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.”

Throughout the Prairie provinces, there is a limited local capacity for next-generation sequencing causing delays which limit the benefits of early diagnosis, early treatment and improved outcomes. These delays result in adverse outcomes in patients. This project will combine clinical and laboratory approaches to ensure patients have timely access to new diagnostics, new therapies and clinical and specialty supports.

“Today’s announcement is vital to the ongoing innovation and implementation of clinical and diagnostic techniques that support timely access to care and support for patients,” said Petr Kresta, Chief Operating Officer, Diagnostic Services with Manitoba’s Provincial Health Authority, Shared Health. “We are so pleased to be embarking on this important work with our colleagues at the University of Manitoba and believe the learnings from this project will have a meaningful impact for patients throughout the Prairie provinces and across Canada.”

CPMN will provide access to a full range of multidisciplinary expertise, develop best practice approaches, and provide, as needed, clinical specialist coverage for generalist physicians and their patients. It will also ensure the timely and more cost-effective delivery of innovative and relevant genomic testing in the Prairies, including rapid, inexpensive mitochondrial DNA testing not available elsewhere; generate genomics data that will stay in Canada; and contribute to knowledge and expertise in Canada across multiple disciplines and specialties.

“Genome Prairie is pleased to support the Canadian Prairie Metabolic Network’s significant mandate that will deliver genomics-based precision health services to children in the Prairies with inherited metabolism issues,” said Mike Cey, President and CEO, Genome Prairie. “We are grateful to partner with the best minds in the prairie region such as Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg, at the University of Manitoba and her team, and in collaboration with Petr Kresta at Shared Health and his team. This network of health-care facilities will apply genomics-based tools to rapidly diagnose patients with rare genetic conditions, improving their care, outcomes and family wellness, which in turn, will lay an equitable foundation for precision health locally and nationally across Canada.”