Novel studies examine organ donation disparity in BC’s ethnic communities and “personalized medicine” approach to transplant patient care

VANCOUVER, September 20, 2016 – Dr. Jagbir Gill is often the bearer of bad news for his patients who desperately need a kidney transplant because the wait times can be upwards of eight years, especially for certain ethnic communities. “While South Asian and Chinese Canadians make up nearly 20% of all British Columbians, they account for less than 10% of organ donors,” says the St. Paul’s Hospital transplant nephrologist. But he hopes to change that through a ground-breaking study funded by the Transplant Research Foundation of BC and Astellas Canada.

This $50,000 project will be the first time people directly involved in donation – medical staff, organ donation specialists, and the families – will have an opportunity to offer solutions to address the donation gap. The results will be used to pilot a culturally specific intervention in BC hospitals for approaching South Asian and Chinese families for organ donation.

According to a 2013 University of BC study, caucasians are three times more likely to be organ donors as East Asians, and eight times as likely as South Asians. Those numbers haven’t changed, and Dr. Gill and his team hope to gain a better understanding of the barriers to donation in these communities.

The Astellas/TRFBC Clinical Research Grant Program also awarded $50,000 to Dr. James Lan, transplant nephrologist at Vancouver General Hospital, for his project on implementing a “personalized medicine” approach to prescribing anti-rejection medications. Dr. Lan’s study will improve patient care by helping physicians understand when it is safe and not safe to reduce immunosuppression. The goal is the development of practice guidelines at the provincial level.

Astellas Canada has provided the TRF with $300,000 of funding over three years. The Program aims to support investigator-initiated, patient-focused and collaborative research in the transplant field in BC, with applications subject to internal peer review.

About Transplant Research Foundation of BC

The Transplant Research Foundation of BC is the only charitable organization in Canada dedicated solely to funding peer-reviewed organ donation and transplantation research.

About Astellas Canada

Astellas Pharma Inc., based in Tokyo, Japan, is a company dedicated to improving the health of people around the world through the provision of innovative and reliable pharmaceutical products. We focus on Urology, Oncology, Immunology, Nephrology and Neuroscience as prioritized therapeutic areas while advancing new therapeutic areas and discovery research leveraging new technologies/modalities.

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For more information please contact:Jay Fiddler