McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

$40-million investment launches international hypertension study

Published: June 15, 2011
Salim Yusuf
Salim Yusuf, executive director of the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) and professor of medicine in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine

A major international study of 11,000 elderly persons with high blood pressure (hypertension) will be led and managed by the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University, thanks to a $40-million investment in Ontario by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.

The study, APOLLO (Aliskiren Prevention of Later Life Outcomes) is one of the largest ever to be conducted out of Canada. It is being led by Dr. Salim Yusuf, executive director of the PHRI and a professor of medicine at McMaster University.

The APOLLO study will follow patients in 20 countries over five years to determine the long-term benefits of aliskiren, the first of a unique new class of blood-pressure-lowering agents called renin inhibitors. Aliskiren is marketed by Novartis as Rasilez.

Specifically, the study will evaluate whether lowering blood pressure with aliskiren and other drugs will reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, strokes or heart failure in elderly patients. A novel aspect of the study is an assessment of functional ability and if participants can continue to carry out the various complex tasks associated with independent and productive living.

A $1-million investment from the provincial government is helping support facilities for the project, which has a total global budget of more than $100 million.

"The PHRI is a world leader in conducting cutting-edge research into the prevention of heart disease and stroke," said Yusuf, the chief scientific officer and vice-president of research at Hamilton Health Sciences. "We are delighted to work on this exciting opportunity with Novartis on this major study. The findings from APOLLO have major potential to improve the health and well-being of the elderly in all parts of the world."

"We’re supporting innovation to strengthen our healthcare system, create new jobs, and move our economy forward," said Glen Murray, minister of research and innovation, who attended the study launch announcement and announced the government’s investment. "The McGuinty government is ensuring that Ontario’s world-class researchers have the tools they need to make new discoveries and attract new investment."

Added Dr. John G. Kelton, dean and vice-president, Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster: "The APOLLO study is an important next step for Dr. Yusuf and his team who are well-known for large, international medical research studies that make a difference in people’s lives."

The study is expected to be completed by mid-2017.

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