York University Team Works to Reduce or Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis
TRAF1 is a protein our bodies make naturally, and people with a specific variation of TRAF1 have an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Removing or adjusting TRAF1 to reduce risk is complex—because this protein has other important roles in our immune system. Our bodies don’t function correctly when it’s switched off or adjusted in certain ways.
What can be done?
Dr. Ali Abdul-Sater from the Faculty of Health at York explains,
“If patients have over-inflammation, we want to restore that function. But we don’t want to mess with other functions because that would be counter-productive.”
Abdul-Sater and his innovative team tested variations of the protein in animal models to determine how to target the elements that will reduce or prevent arthritis, without creating further problems.
What changed with Banting Research Funding?
No funder will provide significant support until there is proof that the concept works. For Abdul-Sater, the prestigious Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award helped him fast-track the evidence.
The lab demonstrated successful animal models of the TRAF1 protein to test their hypothesis.
“We used the money to hire the right people and get the right supplies, and in six months’ time we had figured out these different mutations and variations,” Abdul-Sater says.
With these experiments successfully completed, his team was able to apply for funds from larger agencies—and receive them.
“I wouldn’t have come this far without the Banting support. As a new investigator, I couldn’t get funding because I couldn’t get the funding I needed to do certain experiments in the area of inflammation. It was a Catch-22 predicament,” he says. “Our work now has close to $2M in grants. It all started with the Banting funding.”
Dr. Abdul-Sater wants to mimic the reasons why humans develop rheumatoid arthritis, to test if he can correct the condition. His goal is to create an effective pharmaceutical treatment that could improve the quality of life for millions of people.
Bench to Bedside—going from concept to treatment, that’s the Banting Research Foundation spirit!