Spring 2019 (Volume 29, Number 1)
The Spondyloarthritis Research Consortium
of Canada: Year in Review
By Sherry Rohekar, MD, FRCPC
The Spondyloarthritis Research Consortium of Canada
(SPARCC) is continuing its mission to improve the
health of spondyloarthritis (SpA) patients in Canada.
SPARCC is a trans-disciplinary national research program
that continues to foster innovation in SpA research.
In 2018, SPARCC had three core investigative sites and
11 collaborating sites, and the dataset reached an impressive
5,656 patients who are being followed annually.
SPARCC is currently involved in several exciting genetic
studies. Current investigations include identification of pharmacogenomics
in psoriatic arthritis (PsA), identification of
rare variants for extreme phenotypes, and single nucleotide
polymorphism (SNP)-based algorithms to identify individuals
who are at high risk of developing PsA or axial SpA.
Investigators in Toronto are examining the gut-joint interface
in AS, as well as defining the risks and benefits of
interrupting tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibition in patients
with non-radiographic axial SpA. The SPARCC team
is also achieving high profile for the application of cutting-
edge imaging and bioinformatics to understand the
origins of chronic pain in ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Excitement
is also building in research regarding the innate
immune cytokine MIF (macrophage migration inhibitory
factor) which has the potential to be a new biomarker for
radiographic progression in AS.
In PsA, investigators are working to define axial disease,
examine mortality, remission, and malignancy rates.
SPARCC, in conjunction with the Canadian Rheumatology
Association, is also in the process of updating Canadian treatment
recommendations for the management of SpA. The last
recommendations were written five years ago, and the treatment
landscape in SpA has changed rapidly in that time.
In keeping with its mandate to foster innovation in SpA
research, SPARCC funded four projects through its research
pilot program in 2018 (see table below).
SPARCC also continues to work with the Canadian
Spondyloarthritis Association (CSA) to improve patient education.
A live patient forum in AS was held November 13,
2018, and was also videotaped and livestreamed on You-
Tube. More than 150 participants attended talks regarding
therapy, the impact of chronic illness on mental health, and
concepts in pain management.
The year 2019 also promises to be exciting for SPARCC.
Fellows and early-career clinicians are encouraged to attend
the SPARCC Research Fellows Training Day in Toronto
on May 3, 2019. If you are interested in attending, please
email Maria Morales at email@example.com –
space is limited!
We will also have another call for pilot projects, which
will allow us to fund three-to-four research proposals for up
to $25 000 each. Important dates include:
- Application deadline: April 30, 2019
- Notice of decision: May 10, 2019
- Funding start date: July 1, 2019
The full details of this initiative and application
guidelines may be found by visiting the following
link: www.sparcc.ca/grants. Applications may be sent
to Maria Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax
(416-603-9387) or telephone (416-603-5800 ext. 5093).
For further details, visit www.sparcc.ca.
We welcome anyone with an interest in SpA research to
collaborate with our team. Please contact us if you would
like more information. Together, we can improve outcomes
for our SpA patients.
Sherry Rohekar, MD, FRCPC
President, Spondyloarthritis Research Consortium of Canada
Associate Professor, Western University
|Dr. Ejaz Mohammed Ishaq Pathan,
Spondylitis Program, University Health Network
Co-Investigators: Drs. N. Haroon and
Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor as a Prognostic Biomarker of Radiographic Progression in Psoriatic Arthritis
|Dr. Lihi Eder, Women’s College Research Institute
Co-Investigator: Dr. P. Rahman
Genetic Testing and Musculoskeletal Ultrasound to Improve Early Detection of Psoriatic Arthritis in Patients with Psoriasis
|Dr. Sibel Zehra Aydin, University of Ottawa
Co-Investigators: Drs. D. Solmaz and
Accuracy of Physical Examination to Detect Synovial and Extra Synovial Pathologies in Psoriatic Arthritis in Comparison to Ultrasonography as the Gold Standard
|Dr. Jonathan Chan, University of British Columbia
Co-Investigators: Drs. A. C. L. So and
Validation of Administrative Billing Codes for the Diagnosis of Axial Spondyloarthritis