Funding: Researchers awarded $2M to study genetic links between diabetes and osteoarthritis

As part of the Diabetes Mechanisms and Translational Solutions Team Grant competition, Matthew Grol, PhD, and co-investigators will receive $2M in a five-year period from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). 

The multidisciplinary project is titled Central role of muscle autophagy in metabolism and musculoskeletal health, and led by Dr. Minna Woo, University Health Network, with co-investigators Grol, Assistant Professor, Physiology & Pharmacology; Mohit Kapoor, PhD, University Health Network; Gilles Gouspillou, PhD, Université du Québec à Montréal; and Dr. Angela Cheung, University Health Network. 

Type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis are two conditions that can often occur together. A common thread between them is sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass and strength. Typically, the body eliminates damaged components of muscle cells through a process known as autophagy. When this process is not occurring as it should, damaged cells accumulate, contributing to sarcopenia.

The research team is interested in determining how problems with muscle autophagy contribute to Type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis, as well as identifying common genetic links between the conditions to find new therapeutic targets.

Grol’s role in the study will be to characterize how osteoarthritis develops in mouse models where muscle autophagy has been altered. Applying his expertise in gene therapy approaches, Grol will also help test if Type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis can be treated or even reversed by correcting genetic defects affecting muscle autophagy.

The Diabetes Mechanisms and Translational Solutions Team Grant competition was a partnership between the CIHR, Diabetes Canada, Fonds de recherche du Québec–Santé, The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Canada and the Kidney Foundation of Canada.