A collaboration between McGill and the Douglas

McGill University and the Douglas Institute have long recognized an urgent need to develop new strategies to fight the scourge of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). The faculty of these institutions already possess considerable expertise in the basic and clinical aspects of AD.

Now, McGill and the Douglas have joined hands to create the Centre for Studies on Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease (StoP-AD Centre) dedicated to the prevention of AD. To bring this expertise together into a coherent whole, the Centre has recruited John Breitner, MD from the University of Washington.

The specific mission of the StoP-AD Centre is the study of Alzheimer’s disease in its pre-symptomatic stages. Alzheimer’s Disease is a chronic illness with a biology that extends at least a decade before any symptoms are evident. By measuring the markers of the disease in these stages, we can test whether some forms of treatment might reverse or slow the progress of pre-symptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease.

Finding the right biomarkers

Biomarkers are the key to investigation of pre-symptomatic AD.

Pre-symptomatic AD cannot be investigated by relying on clinical symptoms. Instead, we need other indicators to reveal the development of the biological process. These indicators are called biomarkers. They may include changes in neuroimaging results as well as in the chemistry of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or other body fluids. The study of AD biomarkers will provide the best chance of advancing the cause of AD prevention.

Research activities of the StoP-AD Centre

  1. Clinical investigation of persons who are at risk of AD but who are presently symptom-free. These people will be the participants in a program called PREVENT-AD that will examine the effects of different prevention strategies designed to slow or reverse the disease.
  2. To support basic science efforts of two kinds

Investigation of mechanisms that may explain the results obtained from our clinical research. If our research shows that some interventions can slow or reverse the course of pre-symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease, we will want to explore how and why these treatments are effective. This second line of inquiry must await the early results of the PREVENT-AD program.

Investigation into the biological mechanisms that may cause or accelerate the progress of Alzheimer’s disease in its earliest stages.

Knowledge Transfer

A related goal of the StoP-AD Centre is to train and educate clinicians, researchers and students in clinical and basic sciences to apply these efforts toward the prevention of AD. Playing key leadership roles in the Centre are Judes Poirier, PhD, Pierre Etienne, MD, Natasha Rajah, PhD, and Pedro Rosa-Neto, MD, PhD.

Training awards are available to graduate students.