Western University researchers who are part of the interdisciplinary Bone and Joint Institute have been awarded two major Arthritis Society grants — one to study the cellular workings of osteoarthritis in knee joints, and the other to examine whether a specific protein inhibitor might be used to halt or treat scleroderma fibrosis.
The two grants are among seven announced nationally, as part of the Arthritis Society’s commitment to fund $2.1-million annually to researchers conducting cutting-edge projects during the next three years.
The Western work into knee-joint arthritis examines specific immune cells called macrophages, which are prolific in people with knee osteoarthritis. A team led by Tom Appleton, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, is working to learn whether these macrophages cause inflammation or are anti-inflammatory, whether they worsen or protect against knee osteoarthritis.
“The Arthritis Society is vital for so many of my patients through the various clinical support programs offered, as well as for arthritis scientists and research programs across Canada,” Appleton said.
Andrew Leask, Professor in the Department of Dentistry, also at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, is studying scleroderma, which is an auto-immune disease that results in the build-up of tough, fibrous scar tissue in the skin and other organs. The research team is working to discover whether YAP1 (yes-associated protein) is responsible for generating the scar tissue, and whether YAP1 inhibitors could be used to treat scleroderma.
“These grants point to the excellent research being carried out within Western’s Bone and Joint Institute,” said Jeff Dixon, a member of the Bone and Joint Institute leadership team and Professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.
The Arthritis Society is Canada’s largest charitable funder of arthritis research and is committed to find the causes and cures of arthritis and promote the best possible treatments and care.
The Bone and Joint Institute (BJI) at Western has more than 145 members. This critical mass of experts conducts high-impact transdisciplinary research for the benefit of millions of Canadians suffering from pain and reduced mobility due to musculoskeletal disorders.
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