You Are Here: Home > About Us > News Releases

Arthritis Society-funded study uncovers how Listeria disguises itself and spreads

Published in Nature, research has major implications for arthritis

An Arthritis Society-funded study published this week in the internationally-regarded scientific journal Nature has uncovered a method by which Listeria bacteria (L. monocytogenes) spreads from cell to cell in the human body. This finding could lead to new strategies not only in fighting infections, but also in preventing pathogens from triggering dangerous immune responses in inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

Equipped with a three-year operating grant from The Arthritis Society, Dr. John Brumell, Senior Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto discovered that Listeria disguises itself as dead cells in order to be consumed by neighboring cells, where it then plants its toxin and replicates freely. While this has direct implications for studying septic arthritis, the discovery holds even greater significance for other forms of arthritis by providing a new glimpse into the body’s cellular process, autoimmunity and inflammatory responses.

“The Arthritis Society prioritizes innovative theoretical research as an important component of our overall funding portfolio,” says Joanne Simons, chief mission officer of The Society. “Groundbreaking treatments of the future begin with studies like this, seeking to better understand the mechanisms by which our bodies and our cells work. Dr. Brumell’s work unravelling these secrets could open a number of doors to more targeted research and potential solutions.”

“We are beginning to build a clearer picture of what happens in the body, and it’s suggesting novel ways to move research forward for arthritis and a host of other conditions,” says Dr. Brumell. “This research simply wouldn’t have been possible without The Arthritis Society’s support.”


The Arthritis Society has been setting lives in motion for over 65 years. Dedicated to a vision of living well while creating a future without arthritis, The Society is Canada’s principal health charity providing education, programs and support to the over 4.6 million Canadians living with arthritis. Since its founding in 1948, The Society has been the largest non‐government funder of arthritis research in Canada, investing more than $185 million in projects that have led to breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with arthritis. The Arthritis Society is accredited under Imagine Canada’s Standards Program. For more information and to make a donation, visit

- 30 -

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Jeff Jurmain
National communications specialist – The Arthritis Society
tel: 416-979-7228 x3354

Back to News