Category Archives: Research

Dr. Arsalan Alizadeh Receives DSM Translational Award

13th Jul, 2017

Diagnostic Services Manitoba is proud to announce that Dr. Arsalan Alizadeh was selected as the recipient of the DSM Translational Award at the College of Medicine Major Awards event that was held on June 7, 2017.


2017 Research and Innovation Grant Recipients

28th Mar, 2017

Diagnostic Services Manitoba is pleased to announce the awardees in the 2017 Research and Innovation Grant Competition. The grants provide funding for research with a focus on knowledge translation leading to adoption and implementation of evidence- based clinical practice and patient outcome improvements.


Call for 2017 DSM Summer Studentship Awards Program

31st Jan, 2017

Diagnostic Services Manitoba (DSM) Summer Studentship Awards program is seeking well-motivated students with strong academic records and/or previous research experience to participate in translational research, with preference given to laboratory medicine and diagnostic imaging research. The program is an excellent opportunity for students to work closely with diagnostic professionals and further their knowledge and skills […]


DSM Funds Student Project to Integrate Resource Stewardship into Medical Curriculum

14th Dec, 2016

Modern culture sometimes supports the notion that more is better.  But most of us can probably spot the flawed thinking behind these statements: More money equals more happiness. More free time means more personal fulfillment. More food options equal better diets. The idea that more is better when it comes to diagnostic tests in health […]


Call for DSM Research and Innovation Grants

18th Oct, 2016

DSM’s Research Strategy is intended to support research opportunities that meet the overall principles and strategic priorities for diagnostic services in Manitoba; please review the details below regarding DSM’s guidelines, opportunities and funding. Click here for additional information on the DSM Research and Innovation Grants.


Understanding DSM’s Research Strategy

27th Jun, 2016

Imagine this: 100 years ago a diagnosis of diabetes carried a short life expectancy; a sentence of impending death (children survived less than a year from diagnosis, adults less than 4 years); 50 years ago doctors in Manitoba performed the first pancreas transplant; and 25 years ago the landmark “Diabetes Control and Complications Trial” changed […]


DSM Sponsors Prestigious Major Awards at U of M’s College of Medicine

8th Jun, 2016

Diagnostic Services Manitoba is proud to sponsor two prestigious awards for University of Manitoba College of Medicine graduate student research. The awards were presented on June 8th at the 2016 Canadian Student Health Research Forum, an event hosted annually by the College of Medicine.


DSM Summer Studentship Program

3rd Mar, 2016

Diagnostic Services Manitoba is pleased to offer a new program that contributes to research and innovation in health care, but also provides an opportunity to grow future generations of scientists, medical professionals, and technologists. The DSM Summer Studentship Program provides an opportunity for a limited number of motivated students with records of strong academic performance […]


Bettering the Odds for Renal Transplant Recipients

24th Sep, 2015

The gifted hands of a skilled surgeon are only one part of the equation in successful kidney transplantation. The other parts are found behind the scenes in laboratories where science works to prevent an organ from being rejected by the recipient’s body.


Dr. Arsalan Alizadeh Receives DSM Translational Award

July 13,17

Diagnostic Services Manitoba is proud to announce that Dr. Arsalan Alizadeh was selected as the recipient of the DSM Translational Award at the College of Medicine Major Awards event that was held on June 7, 2017.

Dr. Alizadeh accepting the Translational Award from Alissa Leforte, DSM Director of Laboratory Services

Dr. Alizadeh’s research on spinal cord regeneration following injury is considered groundbreaking both locally and internationally. Recognizing the extent of Dr. Alizadeh’s contributions to research, he was further awarded the Drewry Award for Excellence of Research in the Health Sciences at the awards event in June. The Drewry Award is the highest possible recognition for a top ranking student.

“DSM is committed to supporting research that is relevant to the diagnostic services we provide and that can help to create better outcomes for patients,” said Jim Slater, CEO of DSM. “Innovation is driven by research and it can change what the future of medicine looks like, ultimately improving patient care and recovery and creating a more sustainable health system. We are pleased to recognize the caliber of Dr. Alizadeh’s research with this award.”

The College of Medicine Awards are presented annually to graduate students completing their doctoral degrees. The awards consist of eight possible categories. Each award is worth $1,000 to the student, as well as recognition in the College of Medicine. All of the award winners demonstrate exemplary research skills along with findings that will make a significant impact on medicine and health outcomes.

More information on the CSHRF and awards is available at: http://umanitoba.ca/outreach/conferences/research_days/index.html

Dr. Arsalan Alizadeh – Bio:

Dr. Arsalan Alizadeh is a PhD candidate in Dr. Soheila Karimi’s laboratory in the Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology and the Regenerative Medicine Program within the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba.  Arsalan also holds a Medical Degree from Iran.

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition that poses major socioeconomic burden to the patients’ families and Canadian health care system. Arsalan’s translational project has high implications for the treatment of SCI. The main challenge is that the tissue environment in the injured spinal cord is hostile for repair and regeneration due to severe inflammation and formation of scar tissue. Arsalan’s research has identified a molecule named Neuregulin-1, a growth factor produced by the cells in the normal spinal cord, as a therapy that can modulate inflammation and reduce scar formation in the injured spinal cord. Most importantly, this treatment strategy leads to improved functional recovery in preclinical models. His findings have recognized Neuregulin-1 as a viable therapeutic strategy for spinal cord repair and regeneration. Arsalan’s research has also garnered attention of the research community and selected as hot-topic in neurosciences by the Society for Neuroscience and earned many prestigious awards and scholarships. Arsalan’s future goal is to become a clinician scientist in the area of neurology. Receiving this award will help him to achieve his career goals.

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2017 Research and Innovation Grant Recipients

March 28,17

Diagnostic Services Manitoba is pleased to announce the awardees in the 2017 Research and Innovation Grant Competition. The grants provide funding for research with a focus on knowledge translation leading to adoption and implementation of evidence- based clinical practice and patient outcome improvements.

This year, three projects received funding in the small grant category:

Creating a New Ovarian Cancer Pathology Resource for Research and Innovation in Manitoba

Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Nachtigal (Biochemistry and Human Genetics, University of Manitoba and Senior Scientist, CancerCare Manitoba)
Co-Applicant: Dr. Cyrille Bicamumpaka (DSM/Pathology, University of Manitoba)

Project Summary:

The objective of this study is to build an ovarian cancer tissue microarray (TMA) that can be used as an innovative research tool to advance ovarian cancer research and diagnostic capabilities in Manitoba.

Scleraxis as a Biomarker for Cardiac Fibrosis in Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Principal Investigator: Dr. Davindar Jassal (Radiology and Physiology, St Boniface Research Centre)

Co-Applicants: Drs. Ian Kirkpatrick (Radiology) and Michael Czubryt (Dept of Physiology, University of Manitoba)

Project Summary:

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) due to cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in Canada that is entirely preventable. In people younger than 40 years, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a common cause of SCD. The objective of this study is to determine whether the scleraxis protein, which is a biomarker of cardiac fibrosis, is detectable and correlates with the incidence of cardiovascular disease in patients with HCM as seen in MRI images.

Prognostic Significance of Telomere Length in Follicular Lymphoma: A Population-Based Study

Principal Investigator: Dr. Michel Nasr (DSM, Pathology)

Co-Applicants: Drs. Arshad Ahsanuddin (DSM, Pathology) and Anamarija Perry (DSM, Dept of Pathology, University of Manitoba)

Project summary:

This study aims to evaluate telomere length (TL) in a group of de novo follicular lymphoma (FL) patients in Manitoba. The prognostic significance of telomere length in FL patients treated with chemotherapy, as well as the correlation of telomere length with other clinical parameters and immunohistochemical markers, will be assessed.

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Call for 2017 DSM Summer Studentship Awards Program

January 31,17

Diagnostic Services Manitoba (DSM) Summer Studentship Awards program is seeking well-motivated students with strong academic records and/or previous research experience to participate in translational research, with preference given to laboratory medicine and diagnostic imaging research. The program is an excellent opportunity for students to work closely with diagnostic professionals and further their knowledge and skills in health related fields, and for supervisors to share their expertise and experience with the student.

DSM will award two students $5,000 each for the 3-month duration of the projects (May 15-Aug 15).

Potential projects, along with studentship application and guidelines, are available at: or visit DSM’s website at http://dsmanitoba.ca/research-and-innovation/summer-studentship-program.

Application deadline is: Friday, March 31, 2017

Please forward any enquiries to Kimberly Sawchuk at ksawchuk@dsmanitoba.ca.

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DSM Funds Student Project to Integrate Resource Stewardship into Medical Curriculum

December 14,16

Modern culture sometimes supports the notion that more is better.  But most of us can probably spot the flawed thinking behind these statements: More money equals more happiness. More free time means more personal fulfillment. More food options equal better diets.

The idea that more is better when it comes to diagnostic tests in health care fails to recognize that unnecessary tests can expose patients to unwarranted harm and risk. It also does not take into account that ordering unnecessary tests strains already limited health care resources.

“The CanMEDS 2015 Physician Competency Framework has highlighted stewardship of health care resources as a key competency for all physicians,” said Dr. Ming-Ka Chan, Clinician Educator & Associate Professor in Pediatrics and Child Health with the University of Manitoba. “Medical schools, residency and continuing professional development programs may need to put greater emphasis on ensuring that resource stewardship is integrated into curricula.”

This past summer, Diagnostic Services Manitoba provided funding through its new Summer Studentship program to support a project that reviewed the pre-clerkship medical school curriculum in Manitoba with an eye to making recommendations about where the Manitoba curriculum could be revised or enhanced with resource stewardship and Choosing Wisely principles and then developing appropriate materials. Medical students Andrea Kulyk and Youn Tae Chung were part of a resource stewardship student interest group at the Max Rady College of Medicine, so the project was a natural extension of their interests.

“As medical students, we’re concerned with the future of health care,” said Kulyk. “We’re hoping that this project will help to shift the current medical culture by fostering awareness in medical students and encouraging them to develop evidence-based skills they can use throughout their career.”

“It’s not just about saving money,” added Chung. “It’s about making informed decisions based on available evidence to ensure high value care. More is not always better in medicine.”

The students’ project is two-fold. In the first part, which was completed over summer, the students analyzed the curriculum and identified ways to improve it with resource stewardship principles and Choosing Wisely recommendations. They developed learning materials such as lecture slides, online modules and team-based learning sessions. During this phase, they also established relationships with key stakeholders including the Undergraduate Dean, Pre-Clerkship Committee, course directors and other students.

“The students’ project resulted in the integration of 120 Choosing Wisely recommendations into the curriculum,” said Dr. Ira Ripstein, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education at the University of Manitoba. “We think this curriculum improvement has the potential to strengthen medical practice in Manitoba over the long-term.”

The second phase of the project will be to evaluate the effectiveness of the materials they created on students’ knowledge of and attitude toward resource stewardship in health care. The students surveyed a group of pre-clerkship students to establish a baseline this past September and will re-assess student awareness and thoughts in May 2017.

“We are excited to see the results of integrating the concepts of resource stewardship and appropriate use into the medical curriculum and the changes this could have on new doctors,” said Dr. Eric Bohm, Director of Health Systems Performance with the Centre for Healthcare Innovation and Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Manitoba, who co-supervised the students’ project with Dr. Chan. “The idea is to build support for resource stewardship from the bottom-up so it becomes engrained in how doctors practice medicine.”

Choosing Wisely Change Makers

Read more about the success Manitoba has had with Choosing Wisely initiatives in a feature article by Choosing Wisely Canada – The Manitoba Advantage and Choosing Wisely

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Call for DSM Research and Innovation Grants

October 18,16

DSM’s Research Strategy is intended to support research opportunities that meet the overall principles and strategic priorities for diagnostic services in Manitoba; please review the details below regarding DSM’s guidelines, opportunities and funding.

Click here for additional information on the DSM Research and Innovation Grants.

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Understanding DSM’s Research Strategy

June 27,16

Imagine this: 100 years ago a diagnosis of diabetes carried a short life expectancy; a sentence of impending death (children survived less than a year from diagnosis, adults less than 4 years); 50 years ago doctors in Manitoba performed the first pancreas transplant; and 25 years ago the landmark “Diabetes Control and Complications Trial” changed fundamental thinking on management of diabetes. Banting and Best discovered insulin in 1923. From urine “dip tests” in the 1940s to the first glucose meters in 1970 and HbA1C testing in 1976; everyone understands that research and innovation drove these major milestones in diabetes diagnosis, care and patient outcomes.

team_microscopeIn hindsight, it’s easy to see how diagnostics played a critical role in advancing the research done by Frederick Banting and others. But what about today? Is research a luxury? A perk that comes at the expense of our everyday, critical operations? The reality is that more than 60 per cent of all medical research relies on diagnostics support. Without research and innovation we will not advance healthcare – it is not a luxury or a perk, its an essential component of our commitment to quality. That’s why DSM and its Board of Directors have made Research and Innovation a major strategic priority.

“We’re at the forefront, on the ground floor, so to speak,” said Jim Slater, CEO. “DSM already provides the diagnostic tests that researchers rely on, so developing a Research and Innovation Strategy to guide our investments and activities just makes good sense. DSM is a unique, provincial healthcare organization that is attracting attention from funders and investors, recognizing us for our potential to support research and innovation.”

Research and innovation is not new to DSM. Researchers have always approached us for assistance with projects. Likewise, our own scientific and medical staff have research projects and participate in collaborative research studies. Did you know that DSM has, on average, over 400 active research and innovation projects every year?

In the past, these projects were not guided by any organizational strategy. Until recently, DSM participation in research was not standardized across sites and there were no real processes to support participation. Often procedures and pricing were inconsistent and there was limited financial support and monitoring of demand for our services.

Future Driven by Vision and a Coordinated Approach

DSM’s new Research and Innovation Strategy is intended to change that historic approach by building a system that supports research and innovation projects that are relevant to DSM; creating research and innovation opportunities for DSM staff; collaborating with other organizations; and leveraging DSM resources and expertise in support of appropriate and relevant research programs.

“Without a strong vision for research and innovation, and the lack of a coordinated approach, DSM was actually hindering research and innovation in some respects,” said Jim. “Yet, we know that research and innovation are key ingredients in any quality program and in building a sustainable health system.”

Quality in diagnostics means building truly accessible, appropriate, and sustainable services, which makes research and innovation necessary and critical ingredients. But the point is not to be controlling or restrictive, but rather to ensure DSM is supporting and encouraging research and innovation to the best of our capacity. To that end, a DSM Research Advisory Committee, which is currently being established, will help provide direction and guidance.

“Research and innovation help us improve,” said Jim. “They create better diagnostic tests and procedures, and as we know from the history of diabetes, better diagnostics lead to improved health outcomes. Our goal is to make it easier for researchers to access DSM support while also making sure that our primary raison d’etre – patient care – is not compromised.”

Streamlining Process to Improve Researcher Access

That’s where DSM’s new Research Support Office (RSO) fits in. While research support previously existed (e.g. St. Boniface Hospital Laboratory), its new mandate has been expanded to include all of DSM’s sites and diagnostic imaging.

“We are here to support internal and external researchers and to help facilitate their research needs, streamline the process and keep research in Manitoba,” said Laura Curtis, DSM’s Research Specialist. “But the RSO is not just for researchers. It’s also for DSM staff so that they know operational needs are being considered as well.”

The goal of the RSO is not to determine “if” a study can be accommodated, but to figure out the best way for DSM to support it without negatively impacting clinical work.

In conjunction with DSM medical staff, managers and directors, the RSO will conduct an impact assessment of all the research requests DSM receives. This will help to determine, for instance, the feasibility of requested timelines. The RSO also ensures funding sources are in place and determines in advance if there are any special considerations that need to be taken into account.

The RSO is meant to simplify and streamline the process of accessing DSM services for research. This demonstrates our strength as a collaborative partner and leader in health care. Partnership, in fact, is another key element of the Research and Innovation Strategy.

“You can’t put a price tag on the benefits of creating a supportive culture and positive reputation,” said Jim. “We aren’t providing diagnostic services in a vacuum, but alongside other stakeholders who provide patient care and have a vested interest in research and its outcomes.”

Supporting Research with Grants, Opportunity for Students and Research Resources

As part of the Research and Innovation Strategy, DSM has also increased and expanded our Research Grant program in an effort to better support translational research and innovation projects while also encouraging and strengthening partnerships and building a research culture from within DSM.

“We have significantly enhanced DSM’s Research Grant program,” said Dr. Yvonne Myal, a professor in the University of Manitoba’s Department of Pathology, who also oversees the grant program. “Not only have we increased the number of grants overall, but we have introduced different levels of grants to accommodate different kinds of research and innovation projects and a longer timeframe for completion of projects.”

The grant program will also be seeking to encourage future generations by providing students with an opportunity to participate in research endeavors. DSM’s Summer Studentship Program is being offered for the first time this summer. This program provides an opportunity for select students to mentor with physicians and scientists on their translational research and innovation projects.

DSM has also been involved in the development of a proposal to establish a Provincial Biobank in Manitoba, which will further enable research in Manitoba, whether it is being done by DSM staff or our many partners. “As the provincial leader in diagnostic services provider, DSM is well-positioned to coordinate a Provincial Biobank,” said Jim. “This will remove barriers for researchers and create efficiencies that enable researchers to focus their time and effort where it is needed rather than on developing and maintaining independent biobanks for their projects.”

Whether it is DSM-inspired translational research, clinical trials with partners, or even contract research with pharmaceutical companies, the vision behind DSM’s Research and Innovation Strategy is to become self-sustaining. Research and innovation can generate revenue and savings that can be reinvested into operational needs such as education and training for staff or into other innovation efforts to make health system improvements.

“Research is necessary to create major medical breakthroughs, but even small steps toward better health outcomes are important,” said Jim. “DSM’s involvement in research also creates opportunities that directly benefit DSM operations, staff, and patients. It’s a win-win situation for Manitobans, health care and DSM.”

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DSM Sponsors Prestigious Major Awards at U of M’s College of Medicine

June 8,16

Diagnostic Services Manitoba is proud to sponsor two prestigious awards for University of Manitoba College of Medicine graduate student research. The awards were presented on June 8th at the 2016 Canadian Student Health Research Forum, an event hosted annually by the College of Medicine.

awards

DSM CEO Jim Slater presenting Stephanie Caligiuri with award in Translational Research category.

“Research drives innovation in health care, helping to create better outcomes for patients, but also to build a more sustainable health system,” said Jim Slater, CEO of DSM. “DSM is committed to supporting research and innovation that is relevant to the diagnostic services we provide to Manitobans. Our sponsorship of these two awards is one demonstration of that commitment and we are pleased to recognize our two award winners.”

The College of Medicine Major Awards now consist of eight award categories, including the two latest awards sponsored by DSM. Each award is worth $1,000 to the student, as well as recognition in the College of Medicine. Award winners have demonstrated exemplary research skills along with findings that will make a significant impact on medicine and health outcomes.

DSM sponsored two awards for health research in Translational Research and Imaging/Radiology.

Stephanie Caligiuri is the winner in the Translational Research Category. Her project explored the benefits of using flaxseed as a dietary strategy to reduce high blood pressure and improve heart health. Suchitra Natarajan won in the Imaging/Radiology category for her research that used imaging to better understand the role of the HMGA2 protein in helping cancer cells to become resistant to cancer drugs and therapies. Her results provide promising new treatment options for patients.

More information on the CSHRF and awards is available at: http://umanitoba.ca/outreach/conferences/research_days/index.html

Additional information on the research work of the graduate students who won the awards sponsored by DSM follows below.

DSM Award Winners

Translational Research

stephanieRecipient: Stephanie Caligiuri

High blood pressure was declared a global crisis by the World Health Organization because it is the number one risk factor for death worldwide. Stephanie’s research showed in a clinical trial carried out over one year that supplementation of the diet with flaxseed can induce dramatic decreases in blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure. She found that the reason for this drop in blood pressure was due to specific fat compounds that are carried in the blood. She has also associated changes in the levels of these specific fats in the blood with the incidence of heart attacks and strokes. Finally, she also showed that the levels of these special fats change in a bad way as we grow older and flaxseed supplementation protects against this. This body of work has identified new ways to treat and detect heart disease and stroke even before they happen and show flaxseed to be a promising dietary strategy for heart health.

 

 

Imaging/Radiology

suchitraRecipient: Suchitra Natarajan

A major challenge in cancer therapy is the resistance that cancer cells develop against cancer drugs. This process, which is called chemoresistance, enables cancer cells to escape destruction. HMGA2 is the protein in cancer cells that plays important roles in chemoresistance. Suchitra’s thesis investigated novel mechanisms by which HMGA2 protects cancer cells, thereby contributing to chemoresistance. She used advanced imaging techniques and protein studies to reveal novel interactions of HMGA2 with key proteins to enhance cancer cell survival. Sequential treatment with two drugs that damage DNA and suppress HMGA2 effectively bypassed HMGA2-mediated chemoresistance, causing marked DNA damage and resulting in enhanced cancer cell death. These results provide promising new treatment options for cancer patients.

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DSM Summer Studentship Program

March 3,16

Diagnostic Services Manitoba is pleased to offer a new program that contributes to research and innovation in health care, but also provides an opportunity to grow future generations of scientists, medical professionals, and technologists. The DSM Summer Studentship Program provides an opportunity for a limited number of motivated students with records of strong academic performance (and/or previous research experience) in an undergraduate or co-op program to participate in translational research and innovation projects.

Preference will be given to laboratory medicine and diagnostic imaging students. The program will be offered over the summer months, allowing students to begin their their paid three-month contract at the end of the academic year.

Applicants must be registered at a Canadian institution in an undergraduate degree program or Co-Op program. Canadian citizens and landed immigrants will receive first consideration.

Applications must be sponsored and supervised by a DSM staff member or a University of Manitoba faculty supervisor who must have research experience or experience in scientific methods and validation of new tests and procedures, and who must be prepared to provide the student with direct supervision during the term of the award. Students must be prepared to participate in the project on a full-time basis, and to agree not to change supervisors during the term of the award.

For more information on the program, please consult the DSM Summer Studentship Program Guidelines. Interested students should submit their applications by April 1, 2016.

[Note: The application is a fillable PDF form. To fill in the form, it needs to be saved and opened with a program such as Adobe Reader.]

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Bettering the Odds for Renal Transplant Recipients

September 24,15

The gifted hands of a skilled surgeon are only one part of the equation in successful kidney transplantation. The other parts are found behind the scenes in laboratories where science works to prevent an organ from being rejected by the recipient’s body.

Collaborative research in Winnipeg is reducing allograft rejection for patients worldwide

Preventing kidney transplant rejection has been a major focus in Winnipeg and has resulted in international recognition and accolades. The work done here has changed practices around the globe. Strong communication and excellent working relationships between DSM staff and the Manitoba Renal Transplant team, which operates at the Health Sciences Centre, have contributed to this success.

Once upon a time, rejection of a transplanted kidney was fairly likely to occur. In fact, as many as one-third of transplants were rejected without any warning signs. An approach called ‘protocol biopsy,’ developed in Winnipeg by Dr. David Rush, Medical Director of the Manitoba Renal Transplant team, has helped to uncover subtle signs of rejection that might not have been clinically visible, enabling researchers to modify the recipient’s immunosuppression therapy.

“We have some of the best lab support in North America,” said Dr. Peter Nickerson, Vice-Dean (Research) at University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Health Sciences.  “The two labs involved in transplant in Manitoba – transplant immunology and histopathology – are able to work in tandem.  I think this is a difference from other places that makes us stand out.”

For example, the transplant immunology lab can detect the presence and level of specific antibodies in the patient’s blood reactive against the kidney transplant, directing which transplant patients need further biopsies. Then detailed study of the biopsy pathology can determine if those antibodies are causing active inflammatory injury, and/or progressive chronic irreversible damage to the transplant.

IanGibsonGiven the quality and impact of the work being done in Manitoba, our researchers were invited to participate in a series of projects funded through the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) alongside some other world-renowned academic transplant centres.

Protocol biopsies involve sticking a needle into the kidney, an uncomfortable and invasive procedure for patients, so the NIH has funded multiple collaborative projects to determine if a non-invasive test could be developed to serve as a substitute for repeated allograft biopsies, or to guide more targeted biopsies. DSM’s histopathology lab became the core lab for a number of these NIH-funded studies, which means that many renal allograft biopsies from other US transplant centers are sent here for study and comparison. Similar studies are ongoing in renal transplants in children performed in most of the Canadian pediatric transplant centres, funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr. Ian Gibson of DSM is the central pathologist on these projects.

“Using one laboratory, and one specialized kidney transplant pathologist, to look at the hundreds of allograft biopsies generated by these studies provides consistency in reporting and data collection,” said Dr. Gibson. “What we’re doing now is trying to identify non-invasive biomarkers – signs of rejection in blood or urine – that are more representative of whole kidney function. It’s a slow process; these kinds of studies in renal transplantation will be ongoing over the next decade.”

The initial NIH projects determined that there are immunological tests and urine biomarkers that can assist clinicians to recognize rejection, or at least indicate that the kidney transplant is stable and not being actively rejected.  Gibson, Nickerson, Rush and other members of the research team have begun another phase in the project that involves studying the impacts of some specific changes in immunosuppression protocols.

Bettering the odds, however, requires ongoing monitoring of patients and regular tests.

“We’re trying to be the Hotel California of transplantation,” said Dr. Nickerson. “Patients who have a transplant never leave our care.  This allows us to be innovators – to look for solutions to problems before the problems become insurmountable. We need strong lab support to have good patient outcomes and to improve outcomes in the future.”

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