New emerging team tackles osteoarthritis

New emerging team tackles osteoarthritis

LONDON, ON (May 25, 2004) -- Robarts imaging scientist Dr. David Holdsworth is part of a new emerging team of 11 multidisciplinary researchers in London, Toronto and Montreal who are involved in a new study that aims to relieve pain for those suffering from osteoarthritis.

The teams research will focus on the causes of pain and fatigue in osteoarthritis and is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Canadian Arthritis Network and the Canadian Institutes of Health Researchs Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis, which was announced today at Western.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic, disabling disease that is placing an increasing economic burden on all Canadians, said Dr. Cy Frank, scientific director of the CIHRs Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis. The OA New Emerging Team (NET) grant is providing the kind of financial support researchers require to form strategic teams to lead the battle against this debilitating condition.

For Dr. Holdsworth, participation in this project will further his ongoing research program developing and refining CT imaging techniques to examine and evaluate joint disease and potential therapies; its also a chance to strengthen collaborations with an excellent cross-Canada team.

Dr. James Henry, chair and professor in the department of physiology and pharmacology at Western, will lead the team, which includes co-applicant Dr. Gilles Lavigne of the University of Montreal as well as principal investigators and collaborators from Western, McGill University, University of Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

This project is a good example of the Networks approach to research, says Dr. Tineke Meijers, executive director, Research and Development, Canadian Arthritis Network. It involves not only collaborations with a trans-disciplinary team including researchers in biomarkers, genetics, imaging, histology and physiology but it also provides a fertile training ground for scientists of the future. In addition, there are partnerships with IBEX and Chondrogene.

More than three million Canadians suffer from osteoarthritis, which is caused by a breakdown of cartilage in the joints. Much of the pain of the disease is a result of muscles, tendons and ligaments in the joints being forced to work in ways for which they were not designed, as a result of damage to the cartilage. The exact cause is unknown, although key risk factors include heredity, excess weight, injury and joint damage from another type of arthritis.

Epidemiologists predict there will be about 100,000 new cases of arthritis each year for the next 30 years and that by 2026 more than six million Canadians over the age of 15 will have arthritis. According to the Arthritis Society of Canada, musculoskeletal diseases cost $16.4 billion every year, the second highest cost of disease after heart disease.

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For more information, contact Robarts Communications Director Linda Quattrin at (519) 663-3021 .