Environment impact on health

Environment impact on health

Toronto researchers to investigate environment’s impact on healthFour researchers at the University of Toronto and its affiliated research centres are receiving $2-million each to investigate how environmental factors can impact health. The funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research was announced today by federal health minister, the Honourable Jane Philpott.

“This research funding will enable researchers to use these new technologies to better understand the complex interactions that cause chronic disease, and ultimately help us to identify better ways to prevent and treat chronic disease conditions,” said Dr. Philip Sherman, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes.

Those funds will help Professor Jennifer Gommerman investigate autoimmune disease in South Asian Canadians. As she explains, the project will provide insight on how a change in one’s environmental setting can impact health.

“Immigration often transplants individuals and families into radically different environments in terms of climate, prevailing diet, exposure to microbial pathogens, exposure to pollutants, and changes in lifestyle dictated by economic necessity; yet, we know little about the impact of global migration on health and disease,” says Gommerman, an immunology professor.

This work will help patients like Rasheed Clarke who suffers from ulcerative colitis.

“My parents are both from India and I still have family who live there. I was born in Canada and developed ulcerative colitis. There was never a case of inflammatory bowel disease in my family. So I wonder, what is it about the environment here that triggered UC in me? I have the feeling that I wouldn’t have developed colitis if I was born and raised in India, but I don’t know that for sure, which is why this research is so important,” said Clarke.

This research is also being supported by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.

“Canada has among the highest rates of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the world. Increasingly we are seeing families new to Canada developing IBD for the first time” says Mina Mawani, President and CEO, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. “This research will shed new light as to how our Canadian environment and diet contribute to the development of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and brings us closer to new ways to prevent and treat these diseases affecting nearly 250,000 Canadians.”

The other projects supported by today’s announcement are:

Immunology Professor Alberto Martin will investigate the impact gut microbiome and the environment can contribute to the development of colorectal cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Canada.

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    Qu Biologics Closes Private Financing of CDN$4 Million

    VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – April 12, 2016) – Qu Biologics Inc., a biotechnology company developing Site Specific Immunomodulators (SSIs) that aim to restore the body’s normal immune response, announced it has closed a private financing of CDN$4 million bringing the total private equity capital raised to CDN$23 million to date, including more than CDN$7 million in the last 12 months.

    Funds from this private equity financing will be used to continue to expand Qu Biologics’ clinical programs, including the initiation of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial in at least one cancer indication and adding to existing clinical trials in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Qu Biologics completed enrollment of its randomized, placebo-controlled study in Crohn’s disease, expects to enroll a second group of participants into its open-label Phase 2 study in patients with ulcerative colitis later this year, and recently completed enrollment of its Phase 1/2 study in patients with recurrent non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

    Dr. Hal Gunn, CEO of Qu Biologics commented, “We are grateful for our investors’ support of our immunotherapy approach, as well as their continued confidence in our team. Rather than blocking or stimulating a single pathway, our treatments are designed to restore normal innate immune function. There is growing interest in the role of the innate immune system in chronic disease and as one of the first companies in this important field, we can continue to build upon the broad patent protection we have been granted for our treatments and their applications in cancer and inflammatory diseases.”

    Qu Biologics’ VP of Finance, E. Russell McAllister, added, “Due to the broad applicability and novel mechanism of action of Qu Biologics’ technology, we continue to be successful in raising capital at a time when the broader markets have been less favorable. Our investors appreciate the value of our innovative approach to immunotherapy and the potential that it holds for improving the health of people living with a wide variety of chronic diseases. The capital from this round will allow us to continue to expand and initiate a number of important clinical and non-clinical programs in 2016. We expect to have full results from our Crohn’s disease clinical study in the third quarter.”

    About Qu Biologics

    Qu Biologics develops Site Specific Immunomodulators (SSI), a novel class of immunotherapies that are designed to stimulate an innate immune response in targeted organs, restoring normal immune function and reversing the chronic inflammation underlying many conditions including cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

    Backed by a prestigious group of scientific advisors and board members, Qu Biologics is led by a management team that includes co-founder and CEO Dr. Hal Gunn, a physician and expert on the body’s immune response to chronic disease, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Simon Sutcliffe, former CEO of the BC Cancer Agency and a distinguished clinician, scientist and leader in cancer control internationally, and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. David Mullins, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology in the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, and recognized expert in immune cell trafficking to tumours. For more information, visit and

    Qu Biologics Inc.
    Julie Jang
    Director, Communications
    604.734.1450 ext.41491
    [email protected]

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    Inflammatory bowel disease challenging for youths

    For young people diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis – collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – growing up becomes more complicated than usual and fraught with insecurity. Sometimes, young IBD patients turn their disease into a secret, and live in fear that they will be discovered.

    Many patients feel shame about having a disorder that involves the body’s waste disposal system. They try to hide their disabling stomach pain or their urgent need to run to the bathroom multiple times a day. IBD may also cause joint pain, skin eruptions, severe cramping, rectal bleeding and lethargy, not easy topics to discuss even with close friends. These unsavory symptoms make children, teenagers and even college students ripe for teasing and even bullying.

    For example, Chava Cohen, who lives in Connecticut, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 19 and was intermittently incontinent during college. “For someone at 19, 20, 21, it’s devastating,” she said. “I couldn’t go out. Even going to class became challenging at times. I couldn’t talk about it to anybody.” Cohen recalled that during her senior year of college, someone she shared a bathroom with would pound on the door and yell, “I can’t believe I have to listen to these noises!”

    About 1.6 million Americans have IBD, with 70,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Although IBD can occur at any age, people are more frequently diagnosed between 15 and 35. Like many autoimmune illnesses, its cause is unknown, although about a quarter of cases can be traced to family history. IBD is to date incurable, though numerous medications treat its symptoms.

    Read more: Inflammatory bowel disease particularly challenging for younger patients