2010 Study Results
November 8, 2010
Transforming skin into blood
In a stunning breakthrough, CIHR-funded scientists at McMaster University have discovered how to make human blood from adult human skin. The discovery, published in the prestigious science journal Nature today, is expected to change medical science. People needing blood for surgery, cancer treatment or treatment of other blood conditions like anemia will be able to have blood created from their own skin to provide transfusions, with a turnaround time as short as a few months.
November 4, 2010
Acne medication could treat heart patients
Cardiovascular disease experts note that the body's largest protein – titin – is found cut in several places in heart disease patients. Dr. Richard Schulz, a scientist at the University of Alberta, has solved the mystery of how this happens. A molecule called Matrix Metalloproteinase-2 cuts titin by acting like molecular scissors. The good news is that the tetracycline family of drugs (commonly used to treat acne) are known to be a safe inhibitor of Matrix Metalloproteinase-2. Dr. Schulz' research was funded by CIHR.
November 1, 2010
Ottawa prevention clinic has huge impact on stroke rate
A recent study suggests that patients treated for mini-strokes at the Ottawa Hospital are much less likely to develop a full-blown stroke, thanks to the hospital's new stroke prevention clinic. Established in 2007, the Ottawa Hospital Stroke Clinic coordinates efforts between emergency room physicians, neurologists, and nurses. Patients are rapidly assessed in the emergency department and referred to the stroke clinic for brain imaging, medication adjustments, counselling about stroke risk factors, and, in some cases, surgery. The study was published in the medical journal Stroke, and funded by CIHR.
October 26, 2010
Malaria deaths in India may be higher than WHO suggests
A new study funded in part by CIHR found that the number of deaths related to malaria in India may be 10 times higher than estimated by the World Health Organization. Based on their findings, international experts figure 125,000 to 277,000 people die from malaria each year in India, whereas WHO estimates this number at 15,000. Researchers believe that the official numbers from WHO aren't representative of the impact of malaria because people not admitted to hospitals are often overlooked. The study was published online October 21, 2010 in the journal The Lancet.
October 20, 2010
New research on deaf cats could benefit humans
A recent study using deaf cats could lead to advancements in cochlear implants for adults who are deaf or hard of hearing. CIHR-funded researchers at the University of Western Ontario identified specific parts of the brain that allow those who suffer from vision and hearing loss to experience heightened abilities in their other senses. By pinpointing the affected areas in the brain, researchers may be able to increase the benefits of cochlear implants for older individuals. The journal, Nature Neuroscience, published the findings online on October 10, 2010.
October 6, 2010
Location of early-onset dementia may be affected by career choice
A recent study, funded partly by CIHR, found that occupation choice may influence where a type of dementia takes its root in the brain. Researchers from Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute, in collaboration with the Memory and Aging Centre at the University of California, San Francisco and several U.S. and European clinical sites found that patients diagnosed with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with occupations that rated highly for verbal skills, such as school principals, had greater tissue loss on the right side of the brain, whereas occupations such as flight engineers that had a higher rating for visuospatial skills suffered a greater loss on the left side. The study appeared online on September 22 in the Article in Press section of the journal Neuropsychologia, ahead of publication.
October 4, 2010
10-year study finds HIV frequently causes brain disease
One in four people with HIV suffer from a neurological condition and face twice the risk of death compared to HIV sufferers without neurological diseases, shows a new study funded by CIHR and Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (AI-HS). Dr. Chris Power, Canada Research Chair in Neurological Infection Immunity and author of the study, reported that people with HIV experienced neurological problems such as seizures, dementia, nerve pain in their hands and feet, memory loss, headaches/migraines, etc. The study included 1651 people from across Southern Alberta in active care for HIV between 1998 and 2008. The findings were published in the September 28 issue of the international journal Neurology.
September 13, 2010
Exposure to stress puts brain on high alert
A University of Calgary study, partly funded by CIHR, shows that stress signals arriving in the brain leave a molecular imprint on the brain cells that lasts about a week. Those imprinted cells then respond more strongly to stress-relevant signals from the brain. Scientists agree that it is essential to protect the brain against overreacting to chronic stress. These study findings will potentially uncover new therapeutic targets to soothe the brain's stress centre. The results will be published in the October issue of Nature Neuroscience.
July 14, 2010
Foreign students living with host families exposed to major health risks
A CIHR-funded study shows that foreign students who come to Canada and stay with host families to attend high school are more likely to be smoking and using cocaine when compared to Canadian-born counterparts or immigrant teens living with their parents. The key findings also reveal a much higher rate of sexual abuse among foreign girls living with host families: 23 per cent of these girls compared to 9 per cent of immigrant or Canadian-born girls. Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, the study co-author, holds a CIHR Applied Public Health Chair in Youth Health. The results appear in the May/June issue of the Canadian Journal of Public Health.
Report released on Métis Health Status and Healthcare Utilization in Manitoba
This collaborative study, funded in part by CIHR and involving Manitoba Health, MCHP and the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) examines the health of the Métis population of Manitoba with indicators such as physical illness, hospital services, educational success, and the use of social services. There are some good findings and some that are troubling.
June 28, 2010
"Clumsy" children at greater risk of being overweight or obese
A CIHR-funded study sheds new light on developmental coordination disorder. The McMaster study followed 1,979 students from 75 schools in Ontario over a two-year period from Grade 4 to the end of Grade 6. Dr. John Cairney, an associate professor at McMaster University, led a team of investigators to discover that children with possible developmental coordination disorder were three times more likely to be overweight than children developing typically, and the risk for obesity increased over time.
June 17, 2010
Male desire to be strong and protect family key to preventing suicides
A new CIHR-funded study shows that masculine ideals of strength coupled with strong family ties can help men combat depression and overcome thoughts of suicide. The study authors, Drs. John Oliffe and John Ogrodniczuk from the University of British Columbia, analyzed qualitative data from interviews with 38 men between 24 and 50 years of age living in Vancouver and Prince George. The participants were self-identified or were formally diagnosed with depression. The findings, which reveal that men can best counter suicidal thoughts by connecting with others – namely intimate partners and family – to regain some stability and to secure emotional support from others, will be published in the forthcoming issue of the Social Science and Medicine journal.
Study finds body checking triples risk of injury in pee wee hockey
A University of Calgary study funded in part by CIHR has sparked discussion over whether body checking should be allowed in youth hockey. The study, led by Dr. Carolyn Emery, showed that body checking more than triples the risk of injury and concussion among pee wee hockey players (aged 11-12 years). Dr. Emery and her team followed pee wee hockey teams in Alberta, which permits body checking at this level, and Quebec, where body checking is not permitted until the bantam level (13-14 years). In one season, a total of 241 injuries (71 concussions) were reported in Alberta compared to 91 injuries (23 concussions) in Quebec.
The results were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and shared with hockey organizations in Canada.
June 9, 2010
New Autism Genes Discovered
On June 9, 2010, the Autism Genome Project (AGP), an international autism genetics research consortium co-funded by CIHR and other international councils, announced new autism genetic discoveries from the second phase of a collaborative study. The findings show that individuals with autism tend to carry more submicroscopic insertions and deletions called copy number variants (CNV) in their genome than controls. Some of these CNVs appeared to be inherited, while others are found only in affected offspring and not in their parents. These genetic findings help us understand more about the underlying biology of autism, which could lead to the development of novel treatments. The AGP study results, which appear in the journal Nature, are based on analysis of data collected from 1,000 individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 1,300 without ASD.
May 20, 2010
Fido can teach us a few tricks...
CIHR-funded study published in the latest edition of Anthrozoös finds that as pet owners learn about their pet's diabetes, they apply what they learn to their own health – and vice-versa. The study was done by Dr. Melanie Rock from the Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions and the University of Calgary.
May 7, 2010
A New Explanation for Blues in Early Postpartum
Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto have discovered that levels of a brain protein called monoamine oxidase A in women four to six days after delivery were 43% greater as compared to women not recently pregnant. The findings were strongest on day five, the day when postpartum blues is usually the most severe. Dr. Jeffrey Meyer, principal investigator of this research, provides better understanding of the biology of postpartum depression, which affects 13% of mothers and can have a devastating impact of their health. This study was partly funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
April 26, 2010
Biological link between stress, anxiety and depression
Scientists have discovered the biological link between stress, anxiety and depression. By identifying the connecting mechanism in the brain, this high impact research shows exactly how stress and anxiety can lead to depression. The study also reveals a small molecule inhibitor, which may provide a new and better way to treat anxiety, depression and other related disorders. The research, led by Dr. Stephen Ferguson of Robarts Research Institute at the University of Western Ontario, was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Hymie Anisman at Carleton University, and funded through CIHR. The findings are published online in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
March 25, 2010
New understanding of protein's role in brain
A CIHR-funded study shows that an altered protein, 4E-BP2, plays a key role in memory processes. A modification to this protein, which controls the cellular protein-synthesis machinery, seems to affect nerve cell communication and could be part of the processes underlying memory. A team of researchers headed by Dr. Nahum Sonenberg of McGill's Department of Biochemistry and Goodman Cancer Centre made this discovery. The journal Molecular Cell published the new findings on March 25, 2010.
March 24, 2010
CIHR-funded discovery changes the recommended standard of care for children with rare brain tumour
Thanks to new research funded in part by CIHR and led by The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, young patients suffering from choroid plexus carcinoma, a rare form of paediatric brain cancer, could be spared aggressive radiation therapy. The research identified a specific genetic mutation, the presence of which can determine prognosis. In the study, patients who did not possess this mutation had better outcomes than those who did, even without radiation treatment. This suggests children can be treated with chemotherapy and surgery, and avoid the side-effects associated with radiation. This study may also provide insight into the treatment of other cancers.
March 12, 2010
Kids get arthritis too
A recent national survey, sponsored by The Arthritis Society, revealed that the vast majority of Canadians do not know about juvenile arthritis, a condition that affects 1 in 1000 children in Canada. In this condition, a child's immune system malfunctions and attacks tissues in the body. It causes inflammation of the joints, turning simple everyday tasks, like tying your shoes, into painful challenges. Canadian researchers are working to help children with juvenile arthritis. For example, Dr. Alan Rosenberg at the University of Saskatchewan is part of a national team of researchers that is working on identifying the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the onset and progression of juvenile arthritis. By helping predict the outcomes of this condition more accurately, this work will improve the care of children with juvenile arthritis. This research is being supported by CIHR, The Arthritis Society and the Canadian Arthritis Network. To learn more about juvenile arthritis, visit The Arthritis Society website.
February 15, 2010
The discovery of cells present in muscle tissues may give hope to people with muscular dystrophy
Researchers funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), under the direction of Dr. Fabio Rossi of the University of British Columbia, have recently identified a new type of cells inside muscle tissues. These cells, known as fibro/adipogenic progenitors (FAPs), produce a signal that coordinates tissue regeneration and then disappear once regeneration is complete. In people suffering from chronic muscle diseases such as muscular dystrophy, however, the FAPs remain active and continue to produce the regeneration signal, resulting in fibrosis. This discovery will enable researchers to improve their understanding of the role of FAPs and better control them through drugs. The findings are published in the February issue of Nature Cell Biology.
February 11, 2010
B.C. study says residential school survivors could pass health risks
For the first time ever, research has revealed a statistical connection between residential schools and infectious disease rates. New findings from a University of British Columbia study on at-risk Aboriginal young people in British Columbia point to alarming patterns of historical trauma, injection drug use and Hepatitis C (HCV) infection. The findings were released by the Cedar Project—a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)-funded longitudinal study that monitors HIV and HCV among Aboriginal young people who use drugs in British Columbia.
February 10, 2010
Communication breakdown: nerve cells and Parkinson's disease
A CIHR-funded study from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, at McGill University has discovered a link between Parkinson's disease and defects in the ability of nerve cells to communicate. By studying defects in certain genes and proteins of patients with inherited forms of Parkinson's, researchers are learning about the molecular processes involved in the death of some neurons, which characterizes Parkinson's. The study, whose principal author is Dr. Edward Fon, provides new insight into the causes of Parkinson's disease, and could lead to new therapeutic strategies. It was published in the journal Molecular Cell, and was also selected as Editor's choice in the journal Science.
February 8, 2010
Speech problems in people with Parkinson's disease might be a cause of their social isolation
CIHR-funded researchers under the direction of Dr Mark Pell of McGill University have established a connection between social isolation of people with Parkinson's disease and their difficulty in expressing themselves. In the researchers' study, two groups of elderly adults — one with Parkinson's disease, the other without — described visual scenes aloud while their voices were recorded. When people who were unaware of the speakers' state of health then listened to these recordings, they perceived the speakers with Parkinson's as less interested, less involved, less happy, and less friendly than the others. The results of this study establish a correlation between communication problems due to Parkinson's and social isolation due to the limited number of interactions between people with Parkinson's and their environments. This study thus opens another avenue by which health professionals can address the emotional and psychological support to provide to people with Parkinson's. The study's findings have been published in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.
February 5, 2010
Certain cells in the eye could cause loss of sight
CIHR-funded researchers working with Frédéric Lebrun-Julien, a PhD student at the University of Montreal, have discovered that certain cells in the eye, known as glial cells, can cause blindness if they are activated. Glial cells normally protect neurons in the retina and brain. However, if they are triggered by an unusual molecule, called proNGF, glial cells will destroy these neurons. Researchers are currently working to determine whether glial cell activation can be prevented. Significant clinical benefits may result from this discovery, especially among persons suffering from eye diseases such as glaucoma. The findings have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
January 8, 2010
New predictor for bone cancer prognosis in adolescents and young adults
CIHR-supported researchers led by Dr. David Malkin at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto have recently discovered a new indicator that can help doctors predict how patients with bone cancer may respond to treatment. Researchers found a genetic mutation associated with poorer outcomes for patients with osteosarcoma, which most commonly affects adolescents and young adults. Every year, there are about 300 new cases of osteosarcoma in Canada. The mutation can help doctors decide how aggressively they need to treat specific cases. The study is published in the current issue of Cancer Research.