Research at U of A and UCalgary developing new therapies to curtail steroid use as a part of PACE

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada leads way to reduce high, chronic steroid use through PACE network

Research centres at the Universities of Alberta and Calgary are developing new therapies to curtail steroid use 

EDMONTON, AB – June 20, 2016 – Crohn’s and Colitis Canada with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) clinics at the Universities of Alberta and Calgary have embarked on a monumental project to reduce high, chronic steroid use among Canadians living with Crohn’s and colitis. The project is part of a new, national Promoting Access and Care through Centres of Excellence (PACE) network.

“Three quarters of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients referred to an IBD specialist are on chronic steroid therapy,” explained Dr. Richard Fedorak, University of Alberta PACE lead, gastroenterology professor and interim dean at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. “Simply put – this is too high. Steroids can have a variety of harmful implications and undesirable side effects on patients, including high blood pressure, increased risk of infection, mood swings and weight gain.”

“In the last three years our clinic has tested three new agents, which have been approved for the treatment of IBD as alternatives to chronic steroid therapy,” said Dr. Remo Panaccione, PACE lead at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and member of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases.  “It is vital we begin testing and developing new therapies that expand choices and improve the quality of life for all Canadians living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.”

“Drs. Fedorak and Panaccione are PACEsetters,” says Mina Mawani, President and Chief Executive Officer, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. “Their project to address chronic steroid use is of particular importance in the PACE network. We are confident their research will benefit the nearly 250,000 Canadians living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.”

PACE is the largest Canadian collaboration for adults living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It unites centres of excellence to combine areas of expertise in order to strengthen knowledge and improve patient outcomes. Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is investing in five leading research centres across the country. It is a bold step forward to close gaps in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis care.

The PACE model is unique for Crohn’s and colitis care in Canada. PACE will facilitate a combination of independent research and collaborative learning over a four-year period. During the first year, each centre of excellence will drive its own research. The centres will then work collaboratively to develop their own competencies in all areas. For information about other PACE research at the Montreal, Hamilton and Toronto centres, visit: PACE.

The Universities of Calgary and Alberta IBD centres will focus on reducing chronic steroid use for the next two years and will then begin adopting the best practices of the other centres in years three and four. The project has secured funding for the next four years, with the goal of continuing well beyond 2020.

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, along with its partners AbbVie Corporation, Janssen Inc. and Takeda Canada, are investing an initial $2.5 million in PACE. Over time, they plan to add more centres of excellence to the network and share their findings across IBD healthcare providers to ensure learnings will benefit all Crohn’s and colitis patients. 

About Crohn's and Colitis Canada

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is the only national, volunteer-based charity focused on finding the cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and improving the lives of children and adults affected by these chronic diseases. We are one of the top two health charity funders of Crohn’s and colitis research in the world, investing over $94 million in research to date. We are transforming the lives of people affected by Crohn’s and colitis (the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease) through research, patient programs, advocacy, and awareness. Our Crohn’s & Colitis – Make it stop. For life. Campaign will raise $100 million by 2020 to advance our promise.

About the University of Alberta IBD Clinic

The University of Alberta IBD Clinic provides service to patients with IBD in Northern Alberta and coordinates health care for patients located in Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, and Peace River. This expansive network ensures patients receive excellent IBD care and treatment while minimizing travel burden to Edmonton. Beyond Alberta, the clinic currently treats individuals from North-Western Saskatchewan, Eastern British Columbia and the Northern Territories. Each patient has an IBD Care Team consisting of gastroenterologists, IBD nurse specialists, and a dietitian. The IBD Clinic provides world-class diagnosis and lifelong treatment care for around 4,000 patients with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and indeterminate colitis.

About the University of Calgary IBD Clinic

Over the past 15 years an accomplished team of University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services clinicians and researchers have established Calgary as one of the top three IBD Centres in the world. This group of seven physicians specifically trained in IBD and a world recognized nurse practitioner has produced over 600 scientific publications. Research from Calgary is changing practice and helping to develop treatment, diagnostic and monitoring innovations that will continue to improve the lives of those suffering from IBD. The present University of Calgary IBD Clinic currently supports basic science, including immunology, microbiology, genetics, and bioinformatics, as well as clinical research which includes clinical and non-clinical trials, translational research, environmental health, and population and health promotion research.


 For More information about PACE and to view interviews with the IBD Centre research leads, please click here

To read the May 11 News Release featuring the other 3 centres (Toronto, Hamilton, and Montreal) click here 

For more information or to arrange an interview with a representative of Crohn's and Colitis Canada, a research clinician or patient, please contact:

Adam Bornstein
Account Coordinator, Smithcom Ltd.

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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