Our UHN programs and services are among the most advanced in the world. We have grouped our physicians, staff, services and resources into 10 medical programs to meet the needs of our patients and help us make the most of our resources.
University Health Network is a health care and medical research organization in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The scope of research and complexity of cases at UHN has made us a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care.
Our 10 medical programs are spread across eight hospital sites – Princess Margaret, Toronto General, Toronto Rehab’s five sites, Toronto Western – as well as our education programs through the Michener Institute of Education at UHN. Learn more about the services, programs and amenities offered at each location.
Maps & Directions
Find out how to get to and around our nine locations — floor plans, parking, public transit, accessibility services, and shuttle information.
Ways You Can Help
Being touched by illness affects us in different ways. Many people want to give back to the community and help others. At UHN, we welcome your contribution and offer different ways you can help so you can find one that suits you.
The Newsroom is the source for media looking for information about UHN or trying to connect with one of our experts for an interview. It’s also the place to find UHN media policies and catch up on our news stories, videos, media releases, podcasts and more.
(TORONTO, Canada – Aug. 4, 2016) – A research team at the Krembil Research Institute has discovered a pair of tissue biomarkers that directly contribute to the harmful joint degeneration associated with spine osteoarthritis.
The study, published today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight, is the first to show that elevated levels of both of these biomarkers cause inflammation, cartilage destruction and collagen depletion.
"These biomarkers are actively involved in increasing inflammation and destructive activities in spine cartilage and assist in its destruction," says principal investigator Dr. Mohit Kapoor, Senior Scientist at the Krembil Research Institute and Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery and the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. Dr. Kapoor specializes in arthritis research.
Osteoarthritis affects about three million Canadians and is characterized by a breakdown of the protective cartilage found in the body's spine, hand, knee and hip joints. There is no known cure.
The study involved tissue biopsies from 55 patients undergoing decompression or discectomy at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at Toronto Western Hospital. As part of the study, the research team – led by Dr. Kapoor and comprising Dr. Akihiro Nakamura, a post-doctoral fellow, and Dr. Y. Raja Rampersaud, a clinical expert and spine surgeon – explored the role, function and signalling mechanisms of two tissue biomarkers: microRNA-181a-5p and microRNA-4454.
The study screened 2,100 microRNAs and found that measuring the levels of these two specific biomarkers can help clinicians determine the stage to which the disease has progressed, and provide a tool for determining the degree of cartilage destruction.
"These are biologically active molecules. By detecting them in the tissue biopsies, we have a tool for determining the stage of spine osteoarthritis," says Dr. Kapoor. "What is really significant, however, is we have discovered that these biomarkers are actively involved in destroying cartilage and increasing inflammation. Furthermore, they promote cartilage cells to die and deplete the most important component of your cartilage, which is your collagen."
The discovery represents the end of the first stage of research. The team is now investigating whether these biomarkers can be detected in the blood – which would help clinicians more simply determine the stage of spine osteoarthritis – and whether further studying the biomarkers will allow researchers to halt and reverse spine degeneration.
"The most critical aspect of this discovery is that we have found that they are active. Now that we know what they are, we are currently looking at blocking them and restoring the joint," says Dr. Kapoor.
The research published today was funded by the Arthritis Program at University Health Network and the Krembil Foundation.
About the Krembil Research Institute The Krembil Research Institute (or "Krembil"), formerly the Toronto Western Research Institute, is one of the principal research institutes of the University Health Network. The Krembil is focussed on research programs dedicated to brain & spine, arthritis and vision disorders with a goal to alleviate debilitating chronic disease through basic, translational and clinical research. Krembil is located at the Toronto Western Hospital in downtown Toronto. For more information, visit
MEDIA CONTACT Jarrett Churchill Senior Public Affairs Advisor Krembil Neuroscience Centre | Krembil Research Institute University Health NetworkPhone: 416 603 5800 x 5294Email: