Scientists from University of Toronto and University of Alberta, and their multinational teams, receive funding support from Brain Canada and CIHR
Brain Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) congratulate Dr. Meaghan O’Reilly from Sunnybrook Research Institute and the University of Toronto as well as Dr. Liang Li based out of University of Alberta whose projects have been recommended for funding as part the 2022 European Union Joint Programme on Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND)’s initiative to find causes, develop cures and identify better ways to care for people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and other neurodegenerative diseases more rapidly.
Brain Canada and CIHR are pleased to support these projects with an investment of $663,000. In early 2022, JPND, the largest global research initiative aimed at tackling the challenge of neurodegenerative diseases, launched a transnational call to improve the understanding of the mechanisms and biological substrates that underlie non-pharmacological interventions to tailor a holistic personalized treatment approach.
Dr. O’Reilly’s project, REBALANCE: Mechanisms of focused ultRasound mEdiated BrAin cLeAniNg Coupled with enhanced mEchanosensation, explores focused ultrasound (FUS), which is a non-invasive, ground-breaking technique suggested for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The partners of the REBALANCE consortia have demonstrated that use of FUS in patients with Alzheimer’s is safe and therapeutic efficacy is currently being studied. Dr. O’Reilly is working with researchers based in Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France, and Latvia to discover the key cellular targets and molecular mechanisms underlying FUS-induced brain cleaning of toxic beta-amyloid aggregates, a hallmark characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, and therapeutic efficacy in the disease. REBALANCE could lead to the discovery of more efficient treatment of patients with Alzheimer’s.
“Existing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases are still too limited, but Brain Canada is dedicated to investing in cutting-edge Alzheimer’s research to improve options for people living with the disease,” says Dr. Viviane Poupon, President and CEO of Brain Canada. “We are eager to support innovative, multinational projects like REBALANCE, as they will accelerate treatments for Alzheimer’s research in Canada, and around the world.”
High-fat nutritional supplementation has been shown to significantly prolong the survival of many patients with ALS. Dr. Li’s project, Hypothalamic mechanisms of High-Calorie intervention in ALS (HiCALS), will test the hypothesis that the efficacy of the high-fat diet is linked to the correction of hypothalamic disturbances that, in turn, drive hypermetabolism in ALS. Hypermetabolism is a newly identified clinical feature of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis that is associated with shorter survival and thought to precede the clinical onset of the disease.
HiCALS goal is to establish the high-fat diet as a mechanistically understood, new, safe and effective disease-modifying intervention for ALS. Dr. Li, Co-Director of the Metabolomics Innovation Centre (TMIC) of Canada, which is funded by Canada Foundation for Innovation – Major Science Initiatives (CFI-MSI) program and Genome Canada, is working alongside researchers in Germany, France, Italy, and Latvia. Dr. Li uses the newly developed global metabolomics and lipidomics technology at TMIC for this study.
“The CIHR Institute of Aging is pleased to partner with Brain Canada once again to support a global, collaborative research initiative which will advance our understanding of both Alzheimer’s and ALS,” says Dr. Jane Rylett, Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Aging. “Collaborative projects like this harness the power of international expertise, which accelerates the process and often lead to remarkable discoveries.”
This investment has been made possible by CIHR and Brain Canada, through the Canada Brain Research Fund (CBRF), an innovative arrangement between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada Foundation. The CBRF increases Canadians’ support for brain research and expands the philanthropic space for funding brain research to achieve maximum impact. To date, Health Canada has invested more than $145 million in brain research through the CBRF which has been matched by Brain Canada Foundation and its donors and partners.