(May 19, 2011—Toronto, ON) The outlook for Canadians with musculoskeletal illnesses and injuries just got brighter, thanks to a new initiative launched by Mount Sinai Hospital, the University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
The three have teamed up for Canada’s first multidisciplinary, collaborative effort aimed at improving research and care for arthritis, osteoporosis, bone and joint injuries, muscle and tendon problems, as well as bone and muscle tumours.
A big focus of the initiative will be new programs in musculoskeletal research and education at the University of Toronto, as well as an educational series for faculty.
The new program is based at the University, with Mount Sinai Hospital and Sunnybrook as equal counterpart ‘hubs’ for both research and medicine. Some of the new research at Mount Sinai, for example, will be focused on building better replacements for damaged and/or diseased joints and tissues, and this effort will be enhanced by the hospital’s new Centre for Regenerative Medicine.
“The idea is to use a patient’s own cells and a biodegradable material to avoid the complications of current metal or plastic joint replacements,” said Dr. Rita Kandel, a clinician-scientist and Chief of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. “We anticipate that biological replacements will overcome many of the current limitations of traditional replacements.”
Dr. Kandel will collaborate with Mount Sinai colleagues Drs. Marc Grynpas and Andras Nagy on this project, while the Hospital’s Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Jay Wunder and his team will focus on developing new ways to keep bones and joints healthy in patients undergoing treatment for sarcoma.
“Toronto is a powerhouse of research and patient care in this area, but historically our efforts have been fragmented across several key academic and hospital sites,” said Dr. Ben Alman, Interim Director of the new musculoskeletal research program, Head of Orthopaedic Surgery and a senior scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children.
“Our goal is to build an integrated community of experts focused on tackling some of the current challenges in understanding and treating these illnesses, especially among Canada’s aging population.”
Musculoskeletal tissue includes bone, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints and other connective tissue that supports and binds tissues and organs together. Damage, disease or degeneration in these tissues can lead to joint pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, primary and metastatic tumours, unhealed fractures and long-term disability.
Musculoskeletal illnesses in Canada:
· Account for more than one half of all chronic conditions in people older than 50 years of age, and are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and disability.
· 30 to 40 per cent of the burden of chronic illnesses.
· The most frequently cited medical conditions for which people report limitations in their activities of daily living and/or loss of independence.
· One of the greatest causes of total lost work days and hospitalizations.
How will this new research program help people with these illnesses?
· Novel treatments for arthritis personalized to each person’s unique sub-type of illness
· Stronger, longer-lasting joint replacements
· New ways to keep bones healthy after treatment for sarcoma and metastatic cancer in bone
· Faster recovery after sports-related injuries
· New ways to prevent and treat osteoporosis, which can help reduce hip fractures in the elderly
· Improved reconstruction and healing of complex fractures (where the soft tissue surrounding bone is damaged)
· Less pain and faster recovery after hip and knee replacements