Unfortunately, there is still no cure for Alzheimer's. We urgently need innovative solutions to stem the tide of this terrible disease, which is a personal tragedy and a public health problem that grows exponentially every year. The key, Douglas researchers say, is to prevent rather than to treat the disease.
The researchers are now beginning an ambitious series of prevention studies that will study novel treatments to delay the onset of early symptoms. “That’s the key,” says Judes Poirier Ph.D, Associate Director of the Centre for Studies on Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease at the Douglas Institute. “Our research is modeled on spectacular successes reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease. We want to intervene before any damage is done,” states Judes Poirier.
“Through these innovative studies, we are looking for a breakthrough that goes beyond traditional prevention methods,” explains John Breitner, MD, MPH, Director of the Centre. “Thanks to a new state-of-the-art laboratory and high-tech medical imaging capabilities, we can examine the poorly understood properties of several common medications and measure their preventive action.”
The researchers and colleagues are currently recruiting healthy adults over age 60 who don’t themselves have symptoms but who have a parent, brother or sister with Alzheimer's disease. These people have a much higher than average risk of developing Alzheimer’s over the coming decades, and the ultimate goal of the prevention program will be to find treatments that can prevent them – and millions of others like them – from developing the disease.
In the coming decades, one baby boomer in five risks developing Alzheimer's. According to the World Alzheimer Report, Alzheimer's disease and its related dementia cost $604 billion worldwide in 2010. The number of people with the disease is estimated to double by 2030. If nothing is done, these trends will lead to major social and economic challenges that will exact a huge toll on our health care system.
Centre for Studies on Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease (StoP-AD)
In the 1990s, advances in Alzheimer's research at the Douglas made the Institute a worldwide leading research centre on this and other mental health issues. The new Centre for Studies on Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease is working to develop treatments that can stop the progression of the disease before the onset of symptoms. The work of John Breitner and Judes Poirier is part of a series of studies being developed at this Centre, where about twenty scientists are studying the aging brain.
If you would like to participate in this study and believe you meet the recruitment criteria, please call 1-855-888-4485 (toll free) or visit the page "Participate in the study".
Available for interviews:
John Breitner: Coming to the Douglas from the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Washington in Seattle, John Breitner is a geriatric psychiatrist recognized for his epidemiological research on Alzheimer's disease. He was invited to set up a research centre at the Douglas to help focus future international research efforts on Alzheimer's disease. This study is just the beginning for Dr. Breitner, who is already thinking about larger-scale projects in the future that will require investment of millions of dollars in funding.
Judes Poirier: He is the Associate Director of the Centre for Studies on Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease. Internationally recognized for his scientific research, he is regularly consulted by various governments and played a major role in creating the Centre. In 1993, Judes Poirier and his team identified the ApoE4 gene as the most important risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. This discovery, which was a breakthrough in genetics at the time, continues to help scientists advance knowledge in the fight against Alzheimer's.
Kevin Bilodeau, Communications and Public Affairs
Douglas Mental Health University Institute
Phone: 514-761-6131, extension 3674