Public Release: 

SFU researchers' new database to help eradicate asthma in children

Simon Fraser University

Imagine a world where allergies, asthma and related chronic diseases are rare. Better yet, imagine a world where these conditions can be prevented before they even develop.

A new powerful database being developed by SFU genomics and bioinformatics researcher Fiona Brinkman and her team is helping Canadian researchers make that world a reality.

In the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study, researchers will use the database, called CHILDdb, to look in depth at how genes and the environment interact to cause chronic diseases in children, in particular allergic disease like asthma. Over 3500 Canadian children are having diverse data tracked about them from birth to age 8.

The CHILD researchers, including SFU researcher Tim Takaro, will use the rich data from CHILDdb to develop precision medicine, which will enable earlier diagnoses and prevention of allergic disease, in particular asthma, in children.

Today, asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting 1 in 7 Canadian children. It is the number one reason for children to be admitted to hospital, and the most common reason for children to miss school. The total cost of asthma in Canada is estimated at over $2 billion annually.

The development of this new powerful bioinformatics database is made possible through $9.1 million in support from Genome Canada for the CHILD study, with the support of SFU's new Data Hub.

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Fast Facts

  • It is estimated that 3 million people of all ages in Canada currently suffer from asthma
  • Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting 1 in 7 Canadian children, and the most common reason for children to be admitted to hospital.
  • The total cost of asthma in Canada is estimated at over $2 billion annually. Eradicating this disease would result in significant healthcare savings.
  • Treatments are available to help manage asthma symptoms, but there is no cure and no accurate way to predict which children will go onto have lifelong asthma
  • The CHILD study is led by Stuart Turvey (UBC) and Padmaja Subbarao (UofT)
  • SFU's Brinkman group is leading the development of CHILDdb
  • The CHILD research program is designed to address two key factors that will allow us to reduce the sickness and costs caused by asthma--early diagnosis and prevention.

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