Dr. Sophie Lerouge
Université de Montréal
The Novel and Exploratory Research Fund gives Canada's most brilliant researchers the opportunity to test imaginative new ideas for defeating diseases.
Frederick Banting proved that sometimes you just have to follow your instincts. He had an idea about isolating part of the pancreas and, toiling in a Toronto lab in the long hot summer of 1921 with his assistant Charles Best, came up with insulin. Within a year of his discovery, diabetes ceased to be a death sentence for millions of people.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC) has always supported the kind of imaginative and innovative work that Banting and Best personified. That support has been formalized with the creation of HSFC's Novel and Exploratory Research Fund (NERF) to help some of our most accomplished medical minds follow well-informed hunches.
“We know these researchers are brilliant because our review committees have rated them as leaders in their fields,” says Linda Piazza, HSFC's Director of Research. “The idea is to give them a chance to develop an idea that – if it works – could change the world.” This one-year award will allow innovators to test out bold new ideas.
Dr. Sophie Lerouge, professor at the École de Technologie Supérieure and researcher at the Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal Research Centre, has an idea for saving lives in the treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysms, a condition that affects eight per cent of men over the age of 65.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms occur when an aortic blood vessel in the belly bulges, posing a deadly threat of rupture. Conventional treatment calls for surgery, which comes with considerable risk and means a long recovery in hospital. A simple, new procedure avoids that by inserting a stent-graft or tube through an artery to the site of the aneurysm. While the new process can save lives and shorten hospital stays, complications from blood leaking back to the aneurysm have limited its use.
Dr. Lerouge wants to optimize and test an injectable gel derived from the shells of shrimps and other crustaceans to act as a bioadhesive occlusive agent to prevent the leaks. If it works, this idea could have a huge impact on the treatment of aneurysms – saving lives and allowing more people to be treated with a minimally invasive procedure instead of major surgery.