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Dr. Jeremy Hirota has been awarded a New Investigator Research Grant sponsored by the SickKids Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to help create a new precision medicine tool for cystic fibrosis patients.

“Unfortunately, currently approved drugs fail to work in all cystic fibrosis patients,” says Dr. Hirota, respiratory researcher at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and Assistant Professor at McMaster University. “Creating new tools and treatment options for this disease will save lives and improve the quality of life for patients with cystic fibrosis.”

Precision medicine works by testing combinations of different drugs tailored to each patient. Dr. Hirota wants to combine precision medicine with a new technology called microfluidics – which refers to the study of tiny volumes of liquids.

Analyzing tiny samples means that the proposed device would be small, require a smaller sample from patients, and could work faster than existing methods to determine the best combination of drugs for each patient.

“We believe that our tool can reduce hospitalizations for cystic fibrosis patients,” says Dr. Hirota. “Depending on our experiments, this could lead to the development of other microfluidic devices for precision medicine to be used for other lung diseases – such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”

According to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, cystic fibrosis is the most common fatal disease affecting Canadian children and youth – affecting one in every 3,600 children born today.

The grant provides Dr. Hirota with three years of funding totalling $280,183.

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