Sometimes, the bark of a disease
is worse than its bite. For many
people with chronic inflammatory
diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis,
hepatitis and Crohn’s disease, the
main symptoms of their disease—the
ones related to their joints, liver or
bowel—are not the most troubling.
“A major concern of many patients
is that they feel awful,” says Dr. Mark
Swain, a Calgary liver specialist,
researcher and gastroenterologist.
“They’re tired all the time, they can’t
think clearly, their appetite is off,
Treating most diseases is a matter
of working to relieve whatever’s
wrong with the body. Despite
receiving effective treatment,
many patients say “Hold it,
I still feel awful,” Swain says.
“We don’t fully understand
how the brain is affected by the
inflammatory response that occurs
within the body during inflammatory
diseases,” he adds.
Since coming to Alberta in 1993 as
a researcher supported by Alberta
Innovates – Health Solutions, Swain
has developed collaborations with
physicians and scientists to learn
more about the communication link
between the body and the brain.
Now, the province is a leading force
in researching new treatments to
improve the quality of life for those
with inflammatory disease.
To learn even more about
these links, Swain became the
principal investigator of a five-year,
$2.5-million research project funded
by the Canadian Institutes of
Because fatigue and mood
disorders often happen when
inflammation is in the body, it
they may be connected, says
Dr. Quentin Pittman, an AIHS-
funded neuroscientist with the
University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss
Brain Institute. “So the key question
is: How does something in one part
of the body change something in
Pittman and his team are getting
closer to the answer. It starts with
How does something
in the body change
something in the brain?