August 2013 – By Leslie Shepherd


The Applied Health Research Centre (AHRC) of St. Michael’s Hospital will lead one of the first three clinical trials under the new MaRS EXCITE program designed to get innovative health care technologies to market quicker. The AHRC will lead the clinical trial for Medtronic of Canada Ltd.’s treatment for patients with drug-resistant hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Medtronic’s Symplicity™ renal denervation system delivers low-level radio frequency energy through the wall of the renal artery to deaden the nerves associated with the renal arteries, a process known as denervation. These “sympathetic” nerves are known to cause hypertension when they become overactive.

MaRS’ Excellence in Clinical Innovation and Technology Evaluation, or EXCITE, initiative is designed to help companies accelerate the adoption and reimbursement of innovative health technologies through a single, harmonized, pre-market, evidence-based process.

EXCITE selects technologies primarily based on their potential to substantially improve clinical outcomes for patients or lower system costs, compared with current approaches.

Medtronic, AppneaDx Inc. and Rna Diagnostics Inc. were the first three companies selected to participate in the program. “The innovation of the EXCITE program to evaluate disruptive technologies pre-release fits perfectly with the mission of the AHRC and our drive to make a big difference for the patients we ultimately serve,” said Dr. Muhammad Mamdani, the director of the AHRC.

The AHRC is an academic, not-for-profit research centre that specializes in designing and conducting clinical research, including multi-centre clinical trials. It offers start-to-finish assistance to researchers who have an idea for a clinical trial but lack the experience or infrastructure to conduct one – from designing high-quality studies to operationalizing a study and drawing up a budget to providing secure informatics services and data management supporting more than 20 different languages, crunching the numbers and analyzing the results with highly trained statisticians.

The AHRC recently joined with two other St. Michael’s groups to form a clinical research services group known as the HUB Health Research Solutions. The other two groups are BreaKThrough Knowledge Translation Services, led by Dr. Sharon Straus, and the Centre for ExceLlence in Economic Analysis Research (CLEAR), led by Dr. Jeffrey Hoch.

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Originally posted in the St. Michael’s Newsroom in May 2013