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Stop Childhood Arthritis

Stop Childhood Arthritis

Stop Childhood Arthritis in its tracks. No child should have to live with the unnecessary pain of childhood arthritis.

Stop Childhood Arthritis is an unprecedented research funding commitment about unlocking the power of personalized medicine and changing the face of childhood arthritis.

The Arthritis Society is making a $5 million investment (2018-2023) to fund ground-breaking research into childhood arthritis including personalized therapies, earlier detection, prevention and quality of life supports. Many people mistakenly think arthritis is just a disease of the elderly, but the statistics tell a different story. As many as 25,000 Canadian children and adolescents seek healthcare for arthritis, which makes it more common than most chronic childhood diseases.

Stop Childhood Arthritis will accelerate the vital and talented work of the Canadian pediatric clinical and research community, who are close to taking a quantum leap forward in the ability to test for, target and treat childhood arthritis earlier, with greater accuracy and fewer side effects.

Combining forces with research partners to accelerate this important work

We are very proud to partner with Genome Canada and other institutions to support UCAN CURE – a transformational research project Canada is leading as part of an international network.

This is an investment in children, and in discovery. The future of arthritis care is going to be driven by a focus on innovation. This initiative is a game-changer with potential implications for arthritis care that extend far beyond children.

The Arthritis Society is excited to be helping lead the way in this initiative thanks to the vision and generosity of our donors.

No child should have to live with the unnecessary pain of childhood arthritis.

Help Stop Childhood Arthritis Today!

Stop Childhood Arthritis represents the largest research commitment the Arthritis Society has ever made into childhood arthritis… so that no child has to live with unnecessary pain.” - Siân Bevan, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, Arthritis Society

Meet the UCAN CURE Researchers

Dr. Susa Benseler and Dr. Rae YeungDr.Susa Benseler and Dr.Rae Yeung

Learn about the vital research taking place in the pediatric rheumatology research community across Canada, as they work to unlock the power of personalized medicine. Here are two of the many remarkable explorers contributing to this vital work: 

  • Dr. Rae Yeung (MD, PhD, FRCPC)
    • Professor of Paediatrics, Immunology and Medical Science at the University of Toronto
    • Senior Scientist in Cell Biology Research at The Hospital For Sick Children (SickKids)
    • Hak-Ming and Deborah Chiu Chair in Paediatric Translational Research

    Dr. Yeung is the founder of UCAN (Understanding Childhood Arthritis Network), a translational research network with members from around the world representing over 50 countries.  She is also the Principal Investigator of UCAN CAN-DU – a network that links world-class pediatric rheumatologists and researchers across Canada and the Netherlands in a shared, collaborative research effort to bring personalized medicine to the care of childhood arthritis.

     UCAN CAN-DU’s goal is to develop tests that allow doctors to tailor treatments to profile of the individual child. (Simply put, ‘personalized medicine’ means delivering the right treatment, at the right time, to the right person.)

    The UCAN CAN-DU team has already made progress in developing genomic tests for systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis. These tests can help determine whether a child has the disease, whether they will respond to medication, and even when to stop medications. The next step is to extend this kind of discovery to other types of childhood arthritis, leading to new, more widespread breakthroughs, and improved outcomes for more children living with arthritis.

    Dr. Yeung’s involvement with the Arthritis Society:

    • We have a long history of supporting Dr. Yeung and her lab throughout every stage of her career, investing over $1.3 million in her research programs and career development
    • Co-lead investigator in the UCAN CURE project, a further $1 million commitment
    “The Arthritis Society’s commitment… is making it possible to truly unlock the power of personalized medicine, improving outcomes by delivering the right treatment at the right time to the right child.” - Dr. Rae Yeung, Founder of the Understanding Childhood Arthritis Network (UCAN), Senior Scientist, Cell Biology Research at the Hospital for Sick Children
  • Dr. Susa Benseler (MD, PhD)
    • Deputy Head Research and Section Chief, Rheumatology, Department of Paediatrics, Alberta Children's Hospital
    • Associate Professor of Paediatrics and Health Policy Management & Evaluation, University of Toronto
    • Associate Scientist in the Child Health and Evaluative Sciences Program at The SickKids Research Institute

    Dr. Benseler is a clinician and research scientist in the UCAN CAN-DU international network. Based in Calgary at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, her research focus is to advance our understanding of childhood CNS vasculitis, inflammatory brain diseases and systemic vasculitis – diseases that share many characteristics with childhood arthritis.

    Dr. Benseler’s work led the development and implementation of BrainWorks, an innovative prospective network of children diagnosed with childhood CNS vasculitis and inflammatory brain diseases. BrainWorks aims to improve recognition, diagnostic evaluation, treatment and long-term outcome of children with childhood CNS vasculitis and inflammatory brain diseases around the world. Imagine the insights a similar network of childhood arthritis patients could uncover!

    Dr. Benseler’s involvement with the Arthritis Society:

    • Serves on our Integrated Scientific and Medical Advisory Committee
    • Society-funded researcher since 2003, including the Geoffrey Carr Lupus Fellowship
    “We have a wonderful opportunity to stop childhood arthritis… to develop new treatments that disrupt the disease, completely changing the lives of affected children.” – Dr. Susa Benseler, Chair of CAPRI

Other childhood arthritis research investments

So far we’ve allocated more than $3.7 million in commitments towards our five-year goal. These funds are currently supporting 10 childhood arthritis research initiatives, including strategic operating grants, career development awards, and training awards.
In addition to the UCAN CURE research profiled above, some other commitments include:

  • Dr. Jaime Guzman, University of British Columbia – A clinical trial to prevent side effects of treatment in children with arthritis

    Many children with arthritis are treated with methotrexate, a drug commonly used in chemotherapy that also effectively controls joint swelling. While this drug has major benefits, too many children with arthritis have nausea and vomiting as a side effect. This can impact every facet of life for children and their families, so many children switch to treatment with expensive biologics, even if methotrexate was working. Dr. Jaime Guzman is leading a clinical trial to see if a drug called ondansetron can prevent nausea and vomiting in children with arthritis starting methotrexate, allowing them to continue methotrexate treatment if it is effective. If successful, this trial could influence clinical practice to improve quality of life for children with arthritis and their families.

  • Dr. Linda Hiraki, The Hospital for Sick Children – Leading the way in genetic studies of systemic lupus erythematosus

    Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a life-threatening inflammatory disease for which there is no cure. About 1 in 5 of those diagnosed with SLE are children or adolescents, who have a higher risk of suffering from disease complications and treatment side effects. Genetic differences have important effects on who gets SLE, how it manifests, and what complications arise. Dr. Linda Hiraki is launching her research career by leading a coordinated effort to study how genetic changes (especially rare ones) affect SLE and its complications in children and adults across North America. This knowledge will lead to improved care and enable the discovery of new treatments.

  • Dr. Manoj Paul, University of British Columbia – Discovering how blood platelets contribute to childhood arthritis

    Childhood arthritis is a devastating disease that can cause severe pain and disrupt growth. But predicting which children are at risk of more severe forms of the disease is an ongoing challenge. Researchers are beginning to learn about how blood platelets (often known for their role in blood clotting) contribute to inflammation and childhood arthritis. Under the supervision of Dr. Hugh Kim, Dr. Manoj Paul is studying how a molecular signal released from platelets contributes to tissue damage in childhood arthritis and whether blood levels of these molecules are linked to disease severity. These new insights could help improve the diagnosis and treatment of children living with arthritis.

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About Childhood Arthritis

Aida was just five years old when she was diagnosed with a form of childhood arthritis – a group of rare conditions affecting three in every 1,000 Canadian children.

These aggressive diseases can strike infants, children and teens, and can seriously erode their quality of life: some of these children have literally never known a day without pain.

AidaResearch into personalized medicine will help Aida's doctors identify the exact right treatment to stop her arthritis in its tracks, relieving the pain, restoring mobility and preventing further damage to her joints – so she can get back to just being a kid.

Help Aida – and the thousands of Canadian children like her.

Help Stop Childhood Arthritis Today!

Here is Aida, post op after receiving 15 injections of steroids into her tiny joints, to help relieve the pain of inflammation, and to get her mobile again - Katrina & Ed, Aida's parents