New G. Magnotta Lyme Disease Research Lab to be
Established at the University of Guelph; $1.4 Million Grant Awarded
June 14, 2017 – GUEPLH, Ontario: The G. Magnotta Foundation for Vector-Borne Diseases has announced a $1.4 million grant over three years to the University of Guelph, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology to undertake Canada’s first evidence-based translational medicine approach to the development of effective diagnostic tests and treatments for Lyme Disease. The research will reveal more precise incidents of Lyme Disease among patients in Canada, many of whom have had to leave the country to gain access to proper testing and care.
The $1.4 million grant for launching the long-awaited research lab has been made possible by the generous donations and support of countless Canadians who have been impacted or know someone who is suffering from the debilitating effects of Lyme Disease. Today, with the disease reaching epidemic proportions, the new research facility is giving Lyme patients in Canada a sense of hope that change is coming.
The G. Magnotta Lyme Disease Research Lab will be led by Melanie Wills, PhD, a world-class expert on cellular pathophysiology. A passionate, vocal advocate for increased research into Lyme Disease, she will lead a team at the University of Guelph to conduct basic research, translating over time to evidence-based improvements in diagnosis and treatments, which currently misses too many people and causes unnecessary and preventable long-term suffering.
The landmark partnership will also include strong links to a leading Canadian hospital for the collection of human tissue to detect the presence of Lyme and to serve as a site for patient recruitment, data collection and, ultimately, patient care. Details will be announced in the coming months.
- The Foundation was established in 2012 by Rossana Magnotta, co-founder and CEO of Magnotta Winery, in memory of her husband Gabe Magnotta who passed away after a lengthy and courageous battle with Lyme Disease. Married for almost 36 years, they had three children, founded Ontario’s third largest winery and spent their final years in Ontario’s health care system battling misdiagnosis, misunderstanding and mistreatment that continues to be the norm for today’s Lyme Disease patients and families.
- Since its inception, the G. Magnotta Foundation has been collaborating closely with the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation (CanLyme) to connect with research scientists within Canada and around the world.
- The Foundation has also developed strong alliances with the broader Canadian Lyme community of patients and their advocates.
- Now found in all Canadian provinces, Lyme Disease is most commonly transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks which are predicted to increase significantly in numbers Canada wide.
- One of the top 10 misdiagnosed diseases in the world, this multi-system infection is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia and can attack a person’s heart, brain, muscles, bones, digestive system, skin, eyesight, hearing and more. It can cause symptoms that mimic Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism resulting in a prolonged misdiagnosis. Dr. Doug Sider at Public Health Ontario stated on May 21, 2017 that the real incidence of Lyme Disease in Ontario is likely at least 10 times higher than is currently being reported.
- Lyme Disease, if caught early, can be effectively treated with a course of antibiotics. However, the lack of reliable tests in Canada means many people are being missed. If left untreated, Lyme Disease can become chronic, devastating and deadly.
- In early June, Health Minister Jane Philpott announced the Federal Government will provide $4 million to establish a Lyme Disease Research Network providing the potential opportunity for an additional source of funding for the new G. Magnotta Lyme Disease Research Lab at the University of Guelph.
“I created the Foundation shortly after my husband passed away from the effects of Lyme Disease. Over the years it has become a beacon of hope for the countless people who suffer from Lyme every day. I believe the University of Guelph, with its deep expertise in zoonotic diseases, its world-class researchers and its advanced technologies will deliver on the promise that drives our Foundation donors to combat this terrible disease.”
President and Founder, G. Magnotta Foundation for Vector-Borne Diseases
“Lyme Disease is increasingly recognized as a substantial threat across the country, and there is a profound need for high quality science that can improve the lives of afflicted Canadians. As a researcher in the field of cellular pathology, I am passionate about uncovering mechanisms that drive human illness. It is an honour to work with the visionary G. Magnotta Foundation toward a shared goal of breaking new ground in the understanding and treatment of this complex vector-borne disease.”
Dr. Melanie Wills, PhD Inaugural Director of the G. Magnotta Lyme Disease Research Lab Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph
“I am very excited about this partnership between the University of Guelph and the G. Magnotta Foundation. Lyme Disease is a terrible affliction and this laboratory will advance the Lyme Disease research agenda for all Canadians.”
Dr. Jonathan Newman Dean, College of Biological Science, University of Guelph