The Douglas has been at the forefront of Alzheimer’s research for more than two decades. In 1993, Dr. Judes Poirier and his team identified the first and most important risk factor for the common form of the disease. Two years later, they discovered that this same factor (an anomalous variant of the ApoE4 gene) greatly affects how a person responds to treatment. Those with the variant respond poorly or not at all. And, since then, they have continued to make great progress!
Early detection and promising discoveries to delay the disease
By the time it is diagnosed – usually because a person visits their physician complaining of memory loss – it is too late to reverse the damage it has caused.
To counter this, the Douglas rely on early detection. A dozen of the most talented minds in the field are working tirelessly to detect high-risk individuals sooner. This will allow preventing, or least delaying, the disease before parts of the brain begin to degenerate.
Currently, Dr. John Breitner is undertaking the largest clinical study the largest in North America in common Alzheimer’s prevention. He will be testing five seemingly banal but promising prevention strategies: anti-inflammatory drugs; inhaled insulin; physical exercise; cognitive training activities, and certain heart medications.
My team discovered that a variant of a gene that regulates cholesterol can also interfere with and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It provides us for the first time in nearly 15 years with a clear biological target that we plan to use to develop new therapeutic approaches for the common form of the disease.
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