Vancouver, BC – In December 2013 four organizations came together to develop the British Columbia Alzheimer’s Research Award Program. Brain Canada, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), Genome British Columbia (Genome BC), and The Pacific Alzheimer Research Foundation (PARF) put together a $7.5 million fund to seek solutions to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The collaborators of the program have now announced five awardees from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU):
- Mirza Faisal Beg (SFU) – Novel Retinal Biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease: Dr. Beg and his team aim to develop a new retina imaging device using laser light that could lead to an inexpensive, non-invasive and widely deployable retina exam that could be used to screen individuals on a regular basis for the earliest signs of amyloid in the retina indicative of Alzheimer’s. (Award: $1.5 million)
- Neil Cashman (UBC) – Structures, Immunology in Alzheimer’s disease: Dr. Cashman’s team will further his lab’s recent discoveries in targeting toxic Abeta oligomers for diagnostics and therapeutics in Alzheimer’s disease. (Award: $1.5 million)
- James Johnson (UBC) – Does reduced brain insulin production underlie common forms of Alzheimer’s disease?: Dr. Johnson and his team will test the hypothesis that insulin produced in the brain is a critical factor for the survival and function of brain cells in the context of both a genetic change that increases Alzheimer’s risk and a diet that increases Alzheimer’s risk. (Award: $1.05 million)
- Christian Naus (UBC) – Improving the neighbourhood for brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease: Dr. Naus’s team aims to identify unique new drugs which will not only directly target neurons but also enhance the astrocytes’ abilities to protect neurons that are vulnerable to degeneration in Alzheimer’s. (Award: $1.5 million)
- David Vocadlo (SFU) – Moving Alzheimer’s therapeutic strategy to the clinic: Dr. Vocadlo and his team aim to address the key challenges that would clear the way for a promising new therapeutic target to enable the rapid advance of optimized molecules into formal toxicology studies and downstream trials. (Award: $1.5 million)
“The five teams that have been funded by this award represent the best researchers in this field in BC and their research projects hold the promise of great advances in our ability to understand and treat this devastating disease,” said Diane Finegood, president and CEO, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.