Douglas researchers to follow healthy at-risk adults for a ten-year
MONTREAL, Sept. 21, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - Researchers at the Douglas
Mental Health University Institute are about to launch the first
epidemiological study on the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.
"As far as we know, this is the first study of its kind to be carried
out anywhere in the world," states John Breitner, the study's lead
investigator and Director of the new Centre for Studies on Prevention
of Alzheimer's Disease (StoP-Alzheimer). Dr John Breitner and Dr Judes
Poirier, the Centre's Associate Director, will be recruiting 250
healthy adults aged 60 or over, who have (or had) a parent, brother or
sister with Alzheimer's disease, in order to learn which methods are
most effective at preventing this neurodegenerative condition.
Using a combined diagnostic approach of brain imaging and cerebrospinal
fluid analysis, the researchers will observe their subjects' biomarkers
for a period of ten years to find out which preventative agents can
stop the disease from developing, long before symptoms appear. The
preventative agents involved-five in all-have already shown promising
results in previous studies. They are anti-inflammatory medications,
insulin, physical activity, the Mediterranean diet, and drugs
stimulating the production of a protein connected to the apoE gene.
The future of Alzheimer's research
For more than a decade, research into the treatment of Alzheimer's
disease, whether pharmacological or other, has not produced the desired
results. To date, only some symptoms relating to cognitive decline or
memory loss can be treated. Observations by scientists suggest that the
focus should shift to prevention and that money should be invested in
major studies into this aspect of the disease. "Alzheimer's is a public
health crisis that could take on catastrophic proportions in the coming
years. It is imperative that we find the prevention strategies that are
most likely to succeed," stresses Dr Poirier.
Centre for Studies on Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease
Supported financially by McGill University and the professorial chair
funded by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, the Centre for Studies on
Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease, based at the Douglas Institute, is
committed to finding ways to stop the disease's progress long before
any symptoms are noticed. The Centre will be able to draw on the
findings of more than twenty scientists already studying brain aging.
This new study by Dr Breitner and Dr Poirier is the first in a series
that will be developed at the Centre.
"What we will be doing is similar to the work done on preventing heart
disease, that is, to intervene before the damage is done," explains Dr
The impact of disease prevention
Preventing the disease from manifesting itself, even if only for a few
years, would have a huge impact on future generations, on families, on
society, and on the health care system as a whole.
Postponing the disease's symptoms for two years represents 30% fewer
cases for the current generation.
Push the symptoms back by five years, and the number of cases is cut by
half within one generation.
It's a crisis situation. Every year, the costs attributable to
Alzheimer's disease are estimated to be between $6 billion and $8
billion in Canada alone.
Half a million Canadians suffer from Alzheimer's or a related
dementia-71,000 of those are under 75 years of age (Alzheimer's Society
A person who has a parent with Alzheimer's is two to three times more
likely to develop the disease.
If you are interested in participating in this study and think you meet
selection criteria, please contact us:
Toll free number : 1 855 888-4485
Available for interviews:
Dr John Breitner previously worked at Duke and Johns Hopkins
universities. A geriatric psychiatrist, he is known for his
epidemiological studies of Alzheimer's disease. He was recruited by the
Douglas Institute to set up and lead a new research centre that will be
at the forefront of international research into Alzheimer's. This
prevention study is a first, but he is already pondering even more
extensive research projects requiring millions of dollars in funding.
Dr Judes Poirier is the new Centre's Associate Director and a researcher
who has gained international recognition for his scientific work. He is
frequently consulted by governments and has played a major role in
founding StoP-AD Centre. In 1993, he and his research team identified
the apoE4 gene, which influences a person's risk of developing
Alzheimer's disease. This was a significant genetic breakthrough and it
continues to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the fight
against this disease.
SOURCE DOUGLAS MENTAL HEALTH UNIVERSITY INSTITUTE
For further information:
Marie france Coutu, Communications and Public affairs
Douglas Mental Health University Institute
Tel.: 514 761-6131, ext. 2769, Cell: 514 835-3236
About the Douglas-www.douglas.qc.ca