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Arthritis Society announces additional three recipients of Ignite Research Grant

From artificial intelligence to green light therapy to a poop pill, the latest recipients of the Arthritis Society’s Ignite Research Grants are definitely thinking outside of the box to fight the fire of arthritis.  

Dr. Lillian Barra of Western University will investigate if rheumatoid arthritis can be treated with a poop pill (or capsular fecal microbial transplant).   

In this first-of-its-kind project, Dr. Barra will study how diet changes the natural bacterial composition of stool (poop) and how this affects arthritis in a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis. She will also test if transferring gut bacteria from the stool of healthy humans to people with rheumatoid arthritis in a capsule pill form (i.e., a fecal microbial transplant) has potential for treating the disease by improving gut health. 

“Arthritis is a huge challenge looking for bold solutions and we hope these creative minds and their out-of-the-box ideas will help us one day extinguish the disease,” says Dr. Siân Bevan, Chief Science Officer. “Six million Canadians living with arthritis need answers.” 

Dr. Lily Lim of the University of Manitoba will be using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify lupus patients by analyzing their healthcare behaviours in Manitoba’s health administration data. She will also use AI to identify common diseases that occur after an initial lupus diagnosis. This research could allow for earlier diagnosis and access to treatment for people with the disease, and if successful, could be implemented outside Manitoba as well. 

Dr. Jason McDougall of Dalhousie University will examine the effect of green light therapy on osteoarthritis pain. Recent research shows illuminating a room with dim, green light can produce long-lasting pain reduction in people with chronic pain from fibromyalgia or migraines, and Dr. McDougall will be the first to test this on osteoarthritis pain. This could have tremendous benefits as almost two-thirds of people with osteoarthritis do not experience adequate pain relief.  

The Arthritis Society previously announced nine grant recipients in November 2021.The addition of these three grants bring the total investment in our inaugural Ignite Research Grant competition to more than $1 million. Dr. Barra’s and Dr. McDougall’s grants are generously supported by the Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation. 

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