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.

2018 Grant Recipients

Dr. Christine Lee
Dr. Christine Lee | Vancouver Island Health Authority
Research: Safety and efficacy of home-administered freeze-dried fecal microbiota transplantation for treating ulcerative colitis
Date: 2018-2021
Amount: $375,000
Evidence shows that ulcerative colitis may be a response to an imbalance of bacteria in the gut. Fecal microbiota transplantation, also known as a ‘stool transplant,’ is an in-demand procedure that has been shown to help patients find disease remission. Dr. Lee’s proposal aims to help more patients reach remission and improve their quality of life through fecal microbiota transplantation.

Dr. Lee will study how the procedure is administered in a clinic and at home, and assess its safety and effectiveness. The robust dataset will be submitted to Health Canada to make this procedure accessible to more people.

 
Dr Fernand Pierre Gendron
Dr. Fernand-Pierre Gendron | Université de Sherbrooke
Research: Development of a novel family of IBD-modifying molecules
Date: 2018-2021
Amount: $375,000
Dr. Gendron and his team will investigate the therapeutic potential of molecules called UDP analogs (uridine diphosphate-mimicking molecules) for the treatment of IBD. Dr. Gendron’s work, in partnership with Dr. Bilha FIshcer of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, hopes to develop molecules that can help block inflammation and promote healing of the intestine. If successful, this will help keep people with IBD in remission.

 
Dr. Derek McKay
Dr. Derek McKayUniversity of Calgary
Research: Pro-healing macrophages to treat IBD
Date: 2018-2021
Amount: $375,000
The immune system is home to defensive cells called macrophages. Existing research based on animal models shows that treating macrophages with the immune-signalling molecule IL4 reduces symptoms and promotes healing of IBD.

Dr. McKay is taking this research to the next level by exploring the potential to replicate these results in human cells. Dr. McKay’s study lays the groundwork for the development of a personalized therapy that uses a patient’s own cells to combat IBD symptoms and promote healing.

2017 Grant Recipients

Dr. Pere Santamaria
Dr. Pere Santamaria | University of Calgary
Co-investigator: Dr. Derek McKay
Research: Nanomedicines for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease
Date: 2017-2020
Amount: $375,000
Blunting complex immune responses like those leading to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) without compromising the ability of our immune system to protect us against infections and cancer is a long-sought after, but daunting goal.

Dr. Santamaria’s project is founded on the discovery of a new paradigm in the treatment of autoimmune diseases (caused by the white blood cells of the immune system), specifically the development of a ‘nanomedicine’ (a new type of drug composed of very tiny particles) that can cure several different autoimmune diseases in mice by expanding disease-specific 'regulatory' white blood cells.

These regulatory white blood cells put the brakes on the disease-causing autoimmune attack by suppressing the white blood cell of the immune system responsible for orchestrating disease-causing immune responses (the so-called “antigen-presenting cells”). Since the regulatory white blood cells expanded by the developed nanomedicines selectively target the antigen-presenting cells orchestrating a specific disease, they cannot cause generalized suppression of the immune system.

Human IBD is the result of a dysregulated immune response to gut bacteria. Dr. Santamaria has discovered that regulatory white blood cells targeting proteins expressed by gut bacteria can reset this balance and protect mice from colitis.

2016 Grant Recipients

Dr. Stuart Turvey
Dr. Stuart TurveyUniversity of British Columbia
Research: Development of Anti-Inflammatory Nanomedicine for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Date: 2016-2019
Amount: $375,000
Dr. Turvey is attaching tiny gold nanoparticles to peptides to reduce inflammation. He’s had positive results so far using this therapy to improve the health of IBD mice and will now launch larger scale studies to confirm the benefits. Ultimately, this research will facilitate the development of new nanomedicines to treat people living with IBD.

 
Dr. Bruce Vallance
Dr. Bruce VallanceUniversity of British Columbia
Co-investigator: Dr. Leigh Knodler
Research: Intestinal Epithelial Inflammasomes: Frontline Defenders against IBD?
Date: 2016-2019
Amount: $375,000
Dr. Vallance is studying immune cells involved in protecting gut tissue from foreign bacteria. He is looking at ways of improving these cells’ abilities to control inflammation and promote gut healing in IBD.

 
Dr. Theodore Steiner
Dr. Theodore SteinerUniversity of British Columbia
Co-investigator: Dr. Megan Levings
Research: Development of Regulatory T cell immunotherapy for IBD
Date: 2016-2019
Amount: $375,000
Dr. Steiner is looking to enhance the ability of a white blood cell (regulatory T cells) to keep inflammation in check. They will collect these cells from human volunteers and improve function to find the best method to scale up and develop a therapy for IBD patients.

2015 Grant Recipients

Dr. Jean Eric Ghia
Dr. Jean-Eric GhiaUniversity of Manitoba
Co-investigators: Dr. Charles Bernstein, and Dr. Abdelilah Soussi-Gounni
Research: Semaphorin in regulating internal inflammation
Date: 2015-2018
Amount: $374,935
Using IBD patient biopsies and animal models, Dr. Ghia will study the role of Semaphorin, a secreted protein involved in COPD and arthritis, in regulating intestinal inflammation.

 
Dr Michael Surette
Dr. Michael SuretteMcMaster University
Co-investigators: Dr. Paul Moayeddi, Dr. Walter Reinsch, and Dr. Christine Lee
Research: Identifying microorganisms present in UC patients before and after fecal transplant 
Date: 2015-2018
Amount: $324,000
Dr. Surette is trying to determine the mechanisms by which fecal transplantation works by identifying all the microorganisms (bacteria, fungi and viruses) present in UC patients before and after treatment. The goal is to make fecal transplantation more effective and accessible with fewer potential risks.

 
Dr. Eytan Wine
Dr. Eytan Wine | University of Alberta
Co-investigator: Dr. Leo Dieleman, Dr. Jens Walter, and Dr. Gane Wong
Research: Bacterial markers used to create early diagnosis
Date: 2015-2018
Amount: $45,000
Dr. Wine will be using new technologies to locate and 'trap' bacteria that are recognized by the patients' own immune system and likely lead to disease. The results of this research will provide new markers that could be used to help diagnose children (and later adults) with IBD and possibly to even find new treatments.

Past recipients 

To learn about the completed research projects that we have 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