When Dr. John Brumell’s study on the spread of bacteria in human cells was published in the internationally regarded scientific journal Nature, it was a victory for arthritis research. The findings could lead to new strategies to not only fight infections, but also to prevent dangerous immune responses in inflammatory conditions like arthritis. But without Arthritis Society funding, it may never have seen the light of day.
Brumell, a cellular biologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto (SickKids), had been exploring how Listeria bacteria (L. monocytogenes) spreads from cell to cell in the human body.
“The funding for our preliminary work was expiring,” explains Dr. Brumell, who was faced with the prospect of having to shut down the study a few years ago, his work unfinished. A three-year operating grant from the Arthritis Society helped Dr. Brumell and his team complete their research and publish their results. “This is a very exciting time for arthritis research,” he says. “The unlocking of the human genome is opening new ways to look at the disease and enable new treatments.”
Dr. Brumell believes the Arthritis Society’s role in research extends far beyond funding. “The Society is an advocate, a credible voice for millions of Canadians living with this disease,” he says. “It represents the entire arthritis community, and can move governments to prioritize investment in quality research.”
For Brumell, the journey is just beginning: a group research grant involving the Arthritis Society will keep his team working for another five years to explore the implications of their discovery. “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.
Through the generosity of donors, the Arthritis Society plans to fund more studies that will yield a clearer picture of what happens in the body with an eye to both treating and preventing arthritis entirely.