2013 Research In Progress

Gender Differences in Anthropometric Measures of Adiposity: Impact on Estimates of Adiposity Prevalence and Associated Disease Risk.

 Ilona Csizmadi, Tram Pham

Obesity is a serious public health issue today. Individuals who are overweight or obese are at an increased risk of developing illness, such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some cancers. Excess body fat can be detected using powerful imaging techniques such as CT and MRI scans. However, these measures are costly. Anthropometry is commonly used as an inexpensive alternative and is simply defined as the measurement of the human body. Different parts of the human body are measured, and include height and weight, waist and hip circumference. Most of these measurements can be done with a simple tape measure, scale and calculator. These measurements are commonly used in large studies to identify those who are obese and at risk of developing obesity-related disease. The ability of anthropometric measures to correctly identify those who are obese may be affected by gender, age, and ethnicity. The goal of this study is to gain a better understanding of the consistency with which the various body measures identify men and women who are obese. In addition, we will examine the associations between these measures and high blood pressure, an obesity-related disorder. Gender-specific results in identifying those who are obese with the various anthropometric measures will help us interpret results from epidemiologic studies that examine the health effects of obesity. Furthermore, we hope to inform future studies that will, over the long-term, lead to improved methods in the study of obesity in epidemiology.

Development of New Diagnostic and Predictive Biomarker Tests for Prostate Cancer

John Lewis, Desmond Pink, Catalina Vasquez, Konstantin Stoletov, Deborah Sosnowski

Current tests to diagnose prostate cancers are useful, but sometimes lead to false results and fail to predict if the cancer will spread to another part of the body, or metastasize. This can lead to undue stress and unnecessary treatments for patients and their families. The Alberta Prostate Cancer Research Initiative APCaRI is actively working on discovering and studying new markers that can help diagnose prostate cancer and predict aggressive disease with more precision than the current tests used.

Our goal is to develop, validate and use novel tools to improve prostate cancer testing and to help us identify tests to differentiate more dangerous vs. less dangerous prostate cancer. This important information could help patients and their physicians choose treatment options for improved outcomes and better quality of life.

This will be a study of samples from prostate cancer patients that have donated their specimens to different biobanks in North America and Australia to evaluate the usefulness of these novel tests to diagnose and predict biochemical recurrence and/or metastasis in patients with prostate cancer. We will use clinical data related to diagnosis, treatment, and outcome to associate with results from the research tests. To be able to determine if the tests work, it is necessary to use controls for comparison between samples from patients with and without the disease. It is for this that our team is in need of samples from healthy volunteers without prostate cancer to serve as controls.          

Predicting Outcomes in the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Gene-Environment-Microbe-Serology Interaction Studies

Gilaad Kaplan

The term inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) refers to a group of diseases, including Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), which are associated with chronic inflammation of the gut. There is no known cure for IBD. The inflammation that involves the gastrointestinal tract results in many symptoms including abdominal pain, bleeding from the intestine, anemia and weight loss—symptoms that can have a grave impact on an individual’s quality of life. Over the past two decades the prevalence of IBD has climbed steadily, and Canada now has one of the world’s highest incidences of IBD. The Alberta IBD Consortium is a diverse team of investigators primarily from the Universities of Alberta and Calgary, (but with team members in the Universities of Lethbridge, Toronto, McGill and George Mason University) that have come together with the support of a 5-year, $5 million Interdisciplinary Team Grant from the Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (AIHS). Its plan is to study the interactions between genes, microbes and the environment in the development of IBD. The Consortium brings a novel cross-disciplinary and collaborative approach to the study of a devastating chronic disease—an approach that we hope will yield important breakthroughs in IBD treatment and ultimately a cure and preventative strategies.