Discovering Novel Treatments

Once a patient receives the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, they face the decision of choosing a course of treatment. With science rapidly advancing every day, Canadian researchers remain driven to discover novel forms of treatment.

With the support of grants from Crohn's and Colitis Canada, the researchers noted below are working on research projects that focus on discovering innovative forms of treatment for patients living with Crohn's or colitis.

2023 Grant Recipients

Deanna Gibson

Dr. Deanna Gibson | University of British Columbia – Okanagan
Research: Restoring gut symbiosis using a novel live biotherapeutic product that acts via the gut-brain axis
Date: 2023-2026
Amount: $375,000

Using a genetically engineered bacteria previously developed in this lab, this research is examining this bacteria’s ability to target inflammation and metabolic function in mice, specifically to sustain the reduction of inflammation during disease episodes. The intent is that the findings will contribute to the development of specific bacteria that could be used as future treatments.

Simon Hirota

Dr. Simon Hirota | University of Calgary
Research: Assessing the interactions between metformin and NR4A1 on pathogenic intestinal remodelling - repurposing a drug for the treatment of fibrostenosis
Date: 2023-2026 
Amount: $373,500

Metformin is a well-established diabetes treatment with anti-inflammatory properties. Its potential as an IBD treatment has yet to be fully studied. This research will investigate metformin as a way to address the effects of Crohn’s disease by limiting or reversing the thickening or scarring of intestinal tissue. If metformin is effective, its use could be implemented quickly given its wide use and demonstrated safety.

Matthew Sorbara

Dr. Matthew Sorbara​ | University of Guelph
Research: Immunomodulatory activities of butyrate-producing members of Lachnospiraceae
Date: 2023-2026
Amount: $368,800

An imbalance of gut bacteria is a contributor to IBD-related inflammation. Specifically, this team will look at one family of bacteria and the fatty acids it creates that are abundant in a healthy gut but lower in IBD patients. The aim is to determine how this family of bacteria is linked to immune responses including live studies on mice. The ultimate goal is to continue on the path of developing treatments based on biological products that contain live organisms, such as bacteria..

Timothy Shutt

Dr. Timothy Shutt​ | University of Calgary
Research: Developing mitochondrial transfer as a novel therapy to promote mucosal healing in IBD
Date: 2023-2024
Amount: $50,000

Mitochondria are the organelles within cells that generate most of the chemical energy needed to power a cell’s biochemical reactions. Their dysfunction contributes to IBD. This project will continue the team’s studies to investigate the hypothesis that transferring mitochondria within gut cells for those mitochondria contributing to inflammation will decrease IBD-related inflammation. The two aims of this study are to visualize mitochondrial transfer in the gut and to determine whether that transfer is beneficial.

Michael Zaugg

Dr. Michael Zaugg​ | University of Alberta, Edmonton
Research: Protecting the gut and boosting healthy immunity during oral nutrition deprivation: Role of lipid mediators and interleukin-10 (Vegaven nutritional therapy in mouse model)
Date: 2023-2026
Amount: $371,000

This lab has developed a liquid diet formula that offers nutrition with intestinal anti-inflammatory properties. This next step is to quantify the impact of the identified fatty acids on intestinal health in comparison to other existing liquid diet formulas in mouse experiments as part of the process of developing a version for eventual human use.




  • 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