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Saskatchewan Research Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is often diagnosed when symptoms are quite advanced. This makes it difficult to provide effective treatment or management options.
Dr. Darrell D. Mousseau, the Saskatchewan Research Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia, is a researcher at the University of Saskatchewan. He heads a team of researchers (students, technicians and post-doctoral fellows) who are attempting to identify changes in the brain that occur well before symptoms become obvious. When these changes are identified, they will be able to provide a way for family physicians to identify whether a patient is at greater risk of developing AD in late-life.
His work has provided several promising results. First, molecules that can cause depression in some individuals are also changed in some of the brains of AD patients. Second, there are several types of the sticky molecule – called beta-amyloid– that forms the plaques in the brains of AD patients. Mousseau and his team have found that the type of beta-amyloid is not the same in men and women. This would mean that AD might be triggered by different events in the brains of men and women. This would mean that men and women might require different types of treatment options. His work is also finding changes in the brain that are triggered by diabetes and are linked to mental health.
It is now well understood that diseases tend to occur in groups – in other words, that the risk of having one of these diseases might increase, or decrease, your risk of getting the other disease. For example, as mentioned above, having depression can increase your risk of developing AD. The same applies for diabetes. Because of these ‘common risks’, there is a push in the scientific community to study several diseases at once. The thought is that it will be easier to find similarities, as well as differences, between two diseases with a ‘common risk’ if they are studied under the same circumstances. The information likely would lead to better diagnosis or treatment for either or both diseases.
A large-scale study recently showed that survivors of breast cancer tend to have much less risk of developing AD in later life. Mousseau and one of his trainees are now looking at whether genes that are associated with AD can also affect breast cancer cells.
In April 2010, the University of Saskatchewan researcher Dr. Darrell Mousseau was awarded the Saskatchewan Research Chair worth $1 million over five years to study a link between Alzheimer’s disease and depression. The Chair is a partnership among the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, and the University of Saskatchewan. The two funding partners each provide $100,000 per year for five years, while the University of Saskatchewan provides the necessary infrastructure and support for the Chair.
Alzheimer Society Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Research Awards
Graduate Student Scholarship
One of our Hope for Tomorrow initiatives is the Alzheimer Society Graduate Student Award, which supports a graduate student at the University of Regina's Centre on Aging and Health. Commencing in 2011, the Centre on Aging and Health awards the Alzheimer Society Graduate Student Award for $5,000 yearly through a peer review process.