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Life Long Health

Increasing lifelong mobility by addressing osteoarthritis

London - For more than three million Canadians suffering from osteoarthritis, getting out of bed in the morning or opening a jar can be a serious challenge.

The disease, which results in degeneration of bones and joints, has a very human face, causing severe pain and immobility, while reducing quality of life and independence. A lack of treatment options also means it directly and indirectly costs Canadians more than $27 billion annually. Unless treatments are found, the personal and financial toll will only rise with the aging population.

“Problems associated with osteoarthritis are in part caused by a lack of medications that can slow, arrest or reverse progression of the disease,” says Western University professor, Frank Beier, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Musculoskeletal Research. “Unfortunately, we have limited knowledge of early disease processes that would be most amenable to therapeutic intervention.”

Beier’s laboratory, which received $321,264 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund this morning to purchase advanced equipment, is looking to identify molecular and cellular mechanisms that lead to various types of osteoarthritis in the first place, then cause them to progress. In the longer term, he and his team hope to use this knowledge to create new treatment strategies for the disease.

“It is important to develop treatments that stop osteoarthritis early, before widespread damage occurs,” he says.

Beier, who is a professor in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, is also a member of Western’s Bone & Joint Institute, a collection of more than 60 leading researchers from across disciplines helping people maintain lifelong mobility.

Two other Western research programs also received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation this morning, bringing the university’s total to $737,906. They include:

• Martin Duennwald (Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry): $216,642
• Stan Metchev (Faculty of Science): $200,000

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