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.

2022 Grant Recipients

Dr. Fernand-Pierre Gendron
Dr. Fernand-Pierre Gendron | Université de Sherbrooke
Research: Understanding how proteins protect the gut from harmful bacteria
Date: 2022-2025
Amount: $375,000
The human gut contains a protein receptor called LGR5. LGR5 supports the healing and renewal of the gut lining after resurgence of disease in IBD patients. Despite it’s significant benefits, there have only been a handful of studies exploring the mechanism of LGR5. Recent studies have found that manipulation of the LGR5 may lead to novel treatments for IBD.
Dr. Gendron’s team aim to prove their hypotheses that the human gut contains new LGR5 which can be altered and lead to remission of IBD.
Dr. Stephen Girardin
Dr. Stephen Girardin | University of Toronto
Research: Unravelling the link between Crohn’s Disease and Type-2 Diabetes
Date: 2022-2025
Amount: $3750,000
One of the main causes of Crohn’s Disease is poor control of microbes in the intestinal lining. Previous research has shown that the lack of a genetic factor that allows the body’s cells to detect molecules produced by bacteria can increase the risk of Crohn’s Disease.
Dr. Girardin and his team aim to better understand how the intestinal lining senses and controls microbes. Specifically, they will be studying at the role of two proteins in the intestinal lining that are responsible for protecting the intestine from harmful bacteria. The outcome of this study would help in designing novel strategies against Crohn’s Disease.

2021 Grant Recipients

Dr. Jean Sévigny

Dr. Jean Sévigny | Université Laval
Research: Novel P2Y6 antagonists as a potential therapy for inflammatory bowel disease
Date: 2021-2024
Amount: $375,000

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes debilitating ailments of the intestine that affect over 300,000 Canadians and for which effective treatment alternatives are needed.

Danger signal molecules can cause chronic inflammation of the gut in people living with IBD. Dr. Sévigny’s previous study on mouse models found that chronic inflammation of the gut could be prevented by blocking danger signal molecules from binding to the P2Y6 receptor found on the intestinal surface.

Dr. Sévigny will test novel P2Y6 blockers that may lead to a novel IBD treatment envisioned as a pill that would be more economical and practical for patients than current immunotherapies.

To learn more about Dr. Sévigny’s research, watch the video below.


Dr. Karen Madsen

Dr. Karen Madsen | University of Alberta
Research: The use of SGLT2 inhibitors in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease
Date: 2021-2024
Amount: $375,000

Empagliflozin (EMPA) is a drug that is used in the treatment of diabetes to help reduce levels of glucose in the blood. However, in large clinical trials, it has been shown to have beneficial effects on the heart and kidney by reducing inflammation.

Dr. Madsen and her team tested the ability of EMPA to reduce inflammation in an animal model of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and found it to be very effective at healing gut inflammation. They are now exploring EMPA’s effects in immune cells from IBD patients. Results from this study may provide evidence that EMPA could be used to treat IBD as a novel therapeutic agent.

To learn more about Dr. Madsen’s research, watch the video below.

Dr. Theodore Steiner

Dr. Theodore Steiner | University of British Columbia
Research: Using intestinal organoids to model chronic injury and repair in IBD
Date: 2021-2024
Amount: $375,000

Intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) that are found on the intestine are essential for absorbing nutrients, regulating fluid balance, and forming a tight barrier to keep bacteria and certain food products out of the bloodstream.

IECs are constantly produced and replaced to keep the intestine healthy and primed to respond to damage. However, when the damage is severe, the dead cells can be replaced in unhealthy ways thus causing people with repeated intestinal damage, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), to develop chronic gut dysfunction.

In this study, Dr. Steiner plans to understand specifically what changes are taking place in the damaged gut cells, and how they compare to the permanent changes seen in people with IBD. The results of this study will aid in the testing of new drugs and other treatment options for IBD.

To learn more about Dr. Steiner’s research, watch the video below.

Dr. Kirk Bergstrom

Dr. Kirk Bergstrom | University of British Columbia - Okanagan Campus
Research: Role of the gut mucin sialome in protection from microbiota-driven colitis
Date: 2021-2024
Amount: $375,000

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition where the intestinal tract launches inflammatory responses against microbes in the gut causing damage to intestinal tissues.

A universal cause or treatment has yet to be discovered. Therefore, a better understanding of how to manage our microbiota is needed. The goal of Dr. Bergstrom’s research is to learn how sugar molecules attached to secreted mucus in the intestine interact with our gut microbes to prevent colitis.

New data suggests that sialic acid – a key sugar molecule on the mucus – is essential for healthy gut-microbe relationships. Dr. Bergstrom’s research will advance our understanding of how sialic acid promotes protection of the gut from colitis. The results of this study will help identify new pathways to prevent or treat chronic diseases like ulcerative colitis.

To learn more about Dr. Bergstrom’s research, watch the video below.

Past recipients 

To learn about the 2020 research projects we supported, click here.
To learn about the 2019 research projects we supported, click here.
To learn about the 2015-2018 research projects we supported, click here.
To learn about the 2014 research projects we supported, click here.


  • 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