Dr. Nigil Haroon, co-director of the UHN Spondylitis Clinic at the Schroeder Arthritis Institute.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a form of arthritis that triggers inflammation of the spine, causing severe pain. If it goes untreated, AS can also cause permanent damage to the spine, limiting mobility. AS can also lead to fatigue and depression.
AS affects just over one per cent of the population, or more than 400,000 Canadians, nearly all of whom get it when they are between 15 and 40.
Drs. Robert Inman and Nigil Haroon are the co-directors of the UHN Spondylitis Clinic at the Schroeder Arthritis Institute. With their team, they are shedding light on this complex disease.
- They are working with physiotherapists, chiropractors and family practitioners to track a better model for patient referral, with the focus on referring the right patient at the right time to a rheumatologist, while also producing educational materials to boost understanding of the disease among healthcare professionals.
- They look for symptoms such as inflammation in the eye or in the gastrointestinal tract, that are associated with AS.
- They use imaging technologies such as MRI which can confirm an AS diagnosis before those changes even start happening.
- They are studying the use of advanced biologic drug treatments – genetically engineered medicines using molecular biology – which may slow AS progression by 50 per cent. These drugs can often be life-changing in terms of quality of life.
- They use genetic and immune profiling to develop drugs which not only control the disease but eventually cure it.
Read more about how UHN is leading the way here.