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Network Aims to Get at the "Hearts and Minds" of Canadians

May 14, 2009

New discoveries in stroke, cardiac and vascular disease are much closer to reaching the public, thanks to a new Canadian imaging network that is on the leading edge globally.

"There are gaps in the process of moving innovations in imaging toward broad clinical application of these diseases," says Dr. Alan Moody, one of the principal investigators of the Canadian Atherosclerosis Imaging Network (CAIN) and chief of Medical Imaging at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

A group of expert researchers in imaging studies from five leading Canadian hospitals are joining forces to develop strategies to address these gaps. CAIN is a national imaging network conducting research projects that involve the application of advanced imaging technologies to carotid (neck) and coronary (heart) atherosclerotic (vessel wall) disease.

"The main objective of CAIN is to move innovations in imaging, such as new technologies and know-how, into our healthcare system and closer to our patients," says Dr. Moody.  "It allows for a rapid and effective translation of results to our partners and into clinical practice to our patients.  It provides significant value over and above the existing individual research groups. Research activities span dimensions of clinical problems that are not possible for any one group to handle by itself."

"CAIN's multicentre and multi-disciplinary approach allows each discipline to provide unique insight into different aspects of vessel wall disease, and also its effects on the end organ such as the brain and heart," adds Dr. Sandra Black, one of CAIN's researchers and principal users, and the Brain Sciences Program Research Director at Sunnybrook.

Vascular diseases (cardiovascular and cerebrovascular) represent the largest single cause of mortality in Canada for both men and women. The underlying vessel wall disease process leading to heart attacks, angina, a large proportion of strokes and cerebral transient ischemic attacks is atherosclerosis. Answering fundamental questions will have a significant impact on the way this condition is diagnosed and treated, with the ultimate aim of reducing the devastating end-organ effects of heart attack and stroke.

CAIN is composed of five imaging analysis laboratories at the University of Calgary, Ottawa Heart Institute, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Robarts Research Institute, and Montreal Heart Institute.

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