MEDIA RELEASES

$1.5 MILLION AWARDED FOR ARTHRITIS RESEARCH IN BC

November 19, 2003
Dr. John Esdaile, scientific director of the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, has been awarded $1.5 million for osteoarthritis research. His project is one of three to receive funding totaling $4.4 million from the Canadian Arthritis Network (CAN) and the Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA).

"Millions of Canadians are affected by osteoarthritis", said Dr. Esdaile. "Early and aggressive intervention is critically important, and this generous award will help us do a better job of identifying osteoarthritis at the earliest possible stages."

Dr. Esdaile and his team at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada are developing tools to detect osteoarthritis at an earlier stage than it is currently diagnosed. This will make early intervention possible, limiting the consequences of the disease. The research team includes experts in diagnostic blood tests for osteoarthritis, state-of-the-art X-ray scanners, treatment of osteoarthritis and measurement of important aspects of the disease such as limitations on activities, costs and psychological consequences.

The award provides funding over five years under the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's New Emerging Team (NET) Grants program that is designed to support the creation and development of new health research teams that will lay the foundation for future successes in Canadian research.

Dr. Esdaile is the principal investigator of a team that includes research scientists from the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, the University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, McMaster University, McGill University and the University of Western Ontario.

 

$4.4 MILLION AWARDED FOR ARTHRITIS RESEARCH

November 17, 2003
Toronto - Dr. Robin Poole and Dr. Jane Aubin, scientific co-directors of the Canadian Arthritis Network (CAN) and Dr. Cyril Frank, scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's (CIHR) Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA), announced today the award of $4.4 million in funding for three osteoarthritis (OA) research projects.

The awards, co-funded by IMHA and CAN, will provide funding for five years under CIHR's New Emerging Team (NET) Grants program formally announced on October 6, 2003. Designed to support the creation and development of new health research teams that will lay the foundation for future successes in Canadian research, the NET program uses a competitive peer-review process to determine the grant recipients.

More than three million Canadians have OA and the incidence of the disease is expected to increase as the population ages. There is no cure and there are no disease modifying drugs for OA. Symptoms are currently treated by decreasing pain through use of medication and exercise. In severe cases, the affected joints are surgically replaced.

The OA Net grants were developed in response to the outcome of a consensus conference on OA held in 2002, which defined future directions for research. The participants included CAN, IMHA, The Arthritis Society, arthritis researchers, trainees, allied health professionals, national and international pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and consumers.

Dr. John Esdaile of the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada in Vancouver will receive $1.5 million to develop tools to detect OA at an earlier stage than it is currently diagnosed. This will make early intervention possible which limits the consequences of the disease. The research team includes experts in diagnostic blood tests for OA, state-of-the-art X-ray scanners, treatment of OA and measurement of important aspects of the disease such as limitations on activities, costs, and psychological consequences.

Dr. Gillian Hawker of Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre in Toronto will receive $1.4 million to look at the determinants and consequences of pain and fatigue in OA using a biopsychosocial approach. A multidisciplinary team of health researchers will explore the relationship of pain, fatigue, sleep and mental health in OA in relation to factors such as coping strategies, family support and the use of established treatments. The results will enable the development of new treatments, targeted to individuals in the context of their families and the community as a whole.

Dr. James Henry of the University of Western Ontario in London will receive $1.5 million to look at the molecular mechanisms of pain and fatigue in OA in the nervous system and joints. The research will identify the chemicals that are altered in and around the joint at different stages of OA, which may generate the pain. The project will also determine the effects of chemicals released by peripheral nerve terminals on joint tissues. This work will help identify new targets to alleviate pain and prevent tissue destruction in OA.

Dr. Frank said, "OA is a chronic, disabling disease that seriously affects quality of life and the ability to work, creating an economic burden for all Canadians. It is very important to undertake research that leads to a better understanding of the causes of arthritis and its symptoms. This will ultimately lead to effective treatments and possibly a cure."

Dr. Robin Poole, CAN's co-scientific director said, "The Canadian Arthritis Network is unique in involving consumers in making decisions about the future directions of arthritis research. At a major national consensus conference on OA last year, consumers identified research on the causes of pain and fatigue as their first priority. We are pleased to see that substantial progress will be made in this area with the NET grants."

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is Canada's premier agency for health research. Its objective is to excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence, in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened health care system.

The CIHR Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis is a virtual Institute building research linkages and relevant research capacity across Canada. IMHA supports research in three priority areas: Physical Activity, Mobility and Health; Tissue Injury, Repair and Replacement; and Pain, Disability and Chronic Disease.

The Canadian Arthritis Network (CAN) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating a world free of arthritis through integrated, trans-disciplinary research and development. CAN is the single point of contact that links 120 leading Canadian arthritis researchers and clinicians, 40 Canadian academic institutions, The Arthritis Society, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and government.

CAN funds research and acts as a facilitator, bringing scientific discoveries to market by providing access to cutting-edge techniques for product development and evaluation. It offers pre-clinical as well as clinical research services and facilitates technology transfer and the commercialization of new discoveries.

CAN is funded by the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence, Industry Canada's flagship science and technology program.

   
 
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