Dr. Benjamin Chow was told he had seven minutes to pitch his idea. Seven minutes to describe and convey the importance of a groundbreaking medical technique. To explain how using it would improve access to healthcare for thousands of heart patients in under-serviced and remote populations. To address a leading cause of death and disability worldwide.

Seven minutes for a chance at $1-million in funding.

Of nearly 375 North American applicants, Dr. Chow and 14 other finalists were invited to present and compete for last year’s TD Ready Challenge grant. The clinical cardiologist and clinician investigator at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) recalls how he felt upon learning he was one of ten successful applicants.

“As physicians, we focus on each individual patient. This grant affords us the opportunity to help those beyond our typical reach.”

“I was humbled, flattered and excited to be the recipient of the TD Ready Challenge grant,” he told The Beat. “As physicians, we focus on each individual patient. This grant affords us the opportunity to help those beyond our typical reach.”

Dr. Benjamin Chow, UOHI.
Dr. Benjamin Chow poses with a CAD-det unit.

Dr. Chow will soon begin his innovative research designed to improve and expand the early identification of coronary artery disease (CAD). More specifically, Chow will spearhead a project aimed at validating a new, non-invasive, five-minute test for detecting CAD, known as the CAD-det test.

Early research conducted at the UOHI has shown CAD-det’s potential to be a superior test to current front-line methods, such as the exercise stress test (EST), while being safer, more patient-friendly, portable, and uniquely suitable for use in primary care offices and telemedicine applications for remote, underserved patient populations without access to sophisticated diagnostics.

“Our hope is that the CAD-det will demonstrate, compared to EST, superior clinical accuracy, greater patient safety, patient preference and cost effectiveness per diagnosis aiding in the adoption of this game-changing technology to benefit patients through the earlier and better detection of CAD within Canada and throughout the world,” said Dr. Chow.

What comes next?

Dr. Chow and the UOHI will develop and implement a multi-centre evaluation of the CAD-det test. Multiple institutions across Canada are expected to participate in the study. Sites will be chosen to ensure equal enrolment of men and women and represent groups across Canada.

Patients scheduled for ESTs will be recruited at the participating sites and given a CAD-det test. Approximately 1,600 patients will be required for the study. A statistical analysis will be conducted under an independent data review panel to determine the results of the CAD-det’s performance.

“We are extremely excited to participate in the development of this novel ‘disruptive technology’ and we look forward to starting our research in early 2020,” said Dr. Chow. “If successful, CAD-det will change the way we provide care nationally and globally. Instead of patients having to come to us, we will bring testing to patients. We can make universal healthcare a reality.”

AusculSciences Canada Inc., the UOHI’s industry partner in the development of the CAD-det technology, will support Dr. Chow’s research. The company has agreed to match the $1-million grant with in-kind contributions, including CAD-det units, test consumables, data management software tools, clinical monitoring personnel costs and required travel for clinical monitoring visits.