Government of Canada announces $2.5 million grant to study genetic link between leprosy, Parkinson's disease and Crohn's disease

Posted on Monday, December 22, 2014

The Government of Canada announced today that a team of researchers affiliated with the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute (uOBMRI) has been awarded a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to explore a possible genetic link between Parkinson's disease, Crohn's disease and leprosy.

This grant is part of the funding to finance nine new research projects aimed at investigating the relationship between inflammation and chronic disease.

The projects will receive $21.9M over five years from the Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and its partners, namely the Arthritis Society of Canada and Crohn's and Colitis Canada. The projects will be part of the CIHR Roapmap Signature Initiative on Inflammation in Chronic Disease.

Read the Government of Canada press release.

More on uOBMRI study

While the body's immune system is known to play a role in multiple human disorders, the way it responds is complex and not fully understood. The grant will allow the team, led by Drs. David Park and Michael Schlossmacher, to test an intriguing hypothesis: that there is a common immune system link among these three seemingly unrelated diseases, a gene called LRRK2, believed to regulate immune system function.

Thus far, evidence collected by the uOBMRI team suggests that particular variants of the LRRK2 gene can result in abnormal immune response and subsequently lead to the development of Parkinson's, Crohn's or leprosy.

Dr. David Park is uOBMRI director and a professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Michael Schlossmacher is a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and director of the MD/PhD Program at the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine.

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