Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Awards $2.8M in IBD Research Projects

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Awards $2.8M in IBD Research Projects
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Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

In hopes of finding new treatments and developing programs to aid Canadians with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is granting $2.8 million to 11 teams of scientists.

The annual donor-funded awards are granted to those projects with the most potential to produce new therapies for the 270,000 Canadians who have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis — the main forms of IBD, the organization said. By 2030, the number of patients in Canada is projected to exceed 400,000.

“Canada has among the highest rates of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in the world, and we are determined to drive discovery, the only way to prevent and cure these chronic and debilitating diseases,” Mina Mawani, president and CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, said in a press release.

Each year, IBD costs Canada $2.6 billion. The disease also takes a toll on the quality of life of patients, who are twice as likely as the general population to develop depression and anxiety.

For researchers, disparate challenges are growing in urgency: while older adults are experiencing the fastest climb in disease rates, the number of cases in children have increased by more than 50% within the last decade.

The high incidence rates led to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s Grants-in-Aid funding program, which awards scientists and their teams $125,000 annually for three years. Recipients of Innovation Awards get $50,000 for one year. The grants-in-aid program helps advance health policy and IBD prevention efforts, plus searches for treatments and cures. Innovations grants support new or innovative approaches to IBD research.

“Our competition is open to all types of research, and a collective review team built with scientific experts, nurses and people living with IBD ensures that we direct funding to the most promising projects for real impact,” said Kate Lee, the non-profit’s vice president of research and patient programs. “These eleven projects bring diverse strategies to the table for driving new therapies and diagnostics.”

This year’s Grants-in-Aid of Research recipients are awarded to:

— Laura Sly, University of British Columbia, to study a new therapy’s ability to block Crohn’s inflammation in cases involving low levels of the SHIP1 protein. Some studies have linked that protein to disease progression.

— Carolina Tropini, University of British Columbia, who will develop algorithms to try to predict the state of IBD. Tropini also will assess the effectiveness of new medicines on healthy-gut restoration.

— Bruce Vallance, Children’s and Women’s Health Center of British Columbus, who plans to learn how harmful intestinal bacteria cause ulcerative colitis. He also will identify new therapy targets.

— Stephen Vanner, Queen’s University, to investigate targeted opioid delivery to gut neurons. The hope is to find new ways to treat IBD stomach pain.

— Elena Verdu, McMaster University, who plans to target inflammation-causing bacterial enzymes to produce new microbiome-based ulcerative colitis treatments.

— Pierre-Yves von der Weid, University of Calgary, to study whether a dysfunctional lymphatic system perpetuates gut inflammation in Crohn’s.

— Robert Young, Simon Fraser University, who hopes to develop an IBD medication that will safely repair and protect the gut lining.

The 2019 Innovations in IBD Research awards were given to:

— Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Universite de Sherbrooke, who hopes to use mass spectrometry to identify new IBD biomarkers.

— Harry Brumer, University of British Columbia, to study a new version of a peptide for possible IBD targeted treatment.

— Jean Sévigny, Universite Laval, who will seek to create a novel IBD therapy with the NTPDase8 enzyme.

— Sara Ahola Kohut, Hospital for Sick Children, for studying the impact on IBD parents of a new online workshop, “Acceptance and Commitment Training.”

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is focused on finding IBD cures and improving the lives of patients and caregivers.

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