Well the problem, in a way, is the 30,000
people in Canada who die suddenly every year. So our research is really trying to focus
on the genetic things, the inherited things that make people more likely to drop dead.
The one we see the most often, for example, is a young athlete where this happens. And
we’re seeing those families and try to determine what the causes are and then use those as
lessons to try to prevent the problem on a bigger scale. Trying to understand why some
people have a severe form, why people have a milder form, how the inheritance works,
what the factors are in our lifestyles, in our environment, in our other genes that make
that person more or less at risk; that’s a big area of interest for us. We are working on something right now where
we are taking these individuals who have had a collapse, where they’ve had a cardiac arrest,
they’ve been lucky to be resuscitated, and there’s no explanation for that. These are
not people who have something where there is a gene in their family that causes half
the people to drop dead. These are the people where there’s a, if you like, perfect storm
of a bunch of little genes that are contributing. Where we are trying to go with this is, think
of an app where you would be looking at your, sort of, risk score based on a bunch of different
genetic factors that you have. And we would take your saliva or your blood and run it
through a computer system to look at your genetic sequence and then use that app to
say, you know your risk of dying suddenly is double, increased by 10%, lower than usual.
The risk for your brother, if you were the person who had that cardiac arrest, is in
fact quite high and we should put you on a medication, for example, or have you implant
a device to protect you from something like that. We’re not far from the idea of developing
a bunch of things that are really new tests to add to how we understand risk right now.
And then that helps us say, you’ve reached a threshold that means that you need
to take this medicine, you need to have this thing called a defibrillator, your family
should have an AED in your house, those kinds of things. I think that’s an agenda because
our health care’s terribly expensive. We can’t really afford to sustain things that way we
are, by throwing the blanket over the problem and helping a few people. So we’ve got to
focus the lens, if you like, on delivering the right treatment.