Canada’s largest health research project celebrates its 150-thousandth blood sample collection

Posted June 29, 2017

Just as celebrating 150 years is a major milestone in the life of a nation, collecting 150,000 blood samples is a remarkable achievement for a nationwide research platform.  As Canada marks its 150th anniversary of Confederation this July, the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (CPTP) wishes to thank its many dedicated participants.  Together, they’ve helped build a significant biological treasury for all Canadians, to facilitate research into the causes of cancer and chronic disease.

CPTP is a consortium of five regional studies representing eight Canadian provinces: BC Generations Project, Alberta’s Tomorrow Project, the Ontario Health Study, CARTaGENE in Quebec, and the Atlantic PATH, which includes Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Since its launch in 2008, CPTP has become Canada’s largest population health research platform. More than 300,000 men and women from across the country have offered to stay with the project for up to 50 years, providing ongoing details about their health, lifestyle history and daily habits. Many of them have donated saliva and urine in addition to blood samples.

Dr. Paula Robson, one of CPTP’s scientific directors, says that thanks to this huge collection of biological specimens, researchers will be better able to discover why some people develop cancer and chronic diseases over time and others don’t.

“Since the vast majority of these blood samples were gathered before a diagnosis of cancer, they will provide valuable information for decades to come about the changing health of someone who later develops the disease,” she explains.  “Conversely, scientists will have access to samples from people who are never diagnosed with cancer or chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease, to study how and why these participants stay healthy.”

Indeed, the 150,000 blood samples housed by CPTP may also help reveal regional mysteries as well, such as why cancer incidence decreases from east to west across the country. They constitute a truly unique resource for science and for the entire nation – worthy of celebration in this festive year in Canada.