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Above: Dr. Edward Keystone

September is arthritis awareness month, and in Canada, over 2 million people live with arthritis and related autoimmune conditions. There is no cure for these debilitating diseases, some of which can be deadly.

On September 23, 2018 members of the community came together to support critical research for arthritis and autoimmune conditions at the 19th annual Day at the Races fundraiser. Participants heard from Dr. Ed Keystone, a leading rheumatologist and Director of Mount Sinai’s Rebecca MacDonald Centre for Arthritis and Autoimmune Disease, (RMCAD) about some of the novel findings in the field of rheumatoid arthritis.

“Myself and my colleague, Dr. Kathy Siminovitch, are working to understand why biologics work for some patients and not others, and ultimately, why they stop working altogether,” said Dr. Keystone. “We’ve already identify 100 genes associated with risk for rheumatoid arthritis, so we hope that by applying this genetic information, we can guide better treatment decisions in our clinics.”

The types of autoimmune disorders treated at the RMCAD are among the most severe and potentially life threatening. This is because of longstanding inflammation in the tissues of patients with persistent, uncontrolled and active disease. This inflammation accelerates the hardening of their arteries, leading to premature strokes and heart attacks.

Fortunately, the newer innovative therapies that bring these autoimmune diseases under control help to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks. In fact, diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma were among the first in which scientists recognized the role of chronic inflammation leading to hardening of the arteries. In fact, a recent study has just been completed using a drug for rheumatoid arthritis (Methotrexate) to prevent heart attacks in normal men who are at risk.

Support for the Arthritis Research Foundation helps clinicians and researchers reduce joint damage and disability in patients and also helps save lives. Funds from Day at the Races, which has raised over $2 million since its inception, are helping advance the important research of Dr. Keystone and his colleagues at RMCAD.