Past Grant Recipients 2019

Finding Causes and Triggers

A common question asked by patients and their caregivers is "What causes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis?" Unfortunately, the causes and triggers of these chronic diseases remain unknown.

With the support of grants from Crohn's and Colitis Canada, the researchers noted below are moving us closer to discovering the factors that lead to the onset of these diseases by researching environmental triggers, genetic markers, and more.

2019 Grant Recipients

Dr. Pierr-Yves von der Weid
Dr. Pierre-Yves von der Weid University of Calgary
Research: Importance of mesenteric lymphatic dysfunctions in the perpetuation of Crohn's disease
Date: 2019-2022
Amount: $375,000

Early descriptions of Crohn’s disease reveal that inflamed guts have an abnormal lymphatic system. This system, an important part of the body’s immunity that spreads white blood cells, plays vital roles in the gut. It maintains a proper tissue fluid balance and helps absorb digested fats. More importantly, intestinal lymphatic vessels enable specialized immune cells to travel to the lymph nodes and spark an effective immune response.

If the lymphatic system is not functioning properly, it could initiate or worsen diseased states in the gut. Thanks to new advanced imaging techniques, we now have a better understanding of lymphatic system functions – illustrating its role in inflammatory disorders such as Crohn’s disease.

Using mouse models of Crohn’s, this project will test the idea that abnormal lymphatics in the inflamed intestine lead to an impaired lymph flow and immune response – and that this effect perpetuates inflammation.

If a dysfunctional lymphatic system is found to worsen gut inflammation, it means that using therapies to restore lymphatic function could be a new, viable option to treat Crohn’s.

  • 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.

Other Areas of Interest