Globe highlights Alzheimer’s discovery

If genetic variation leads to structural changes in the aging brain, can those changes then help predict an individual’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease?

That is one of the key questions underlying the work of CAMH researcher Dr. Aristotle Voineskos, which was highlighted on the front page of the Globe and Mail on Feb. 9, 2011.

Dr. Voineskos, who also provides treatment for patients in the geriatric mental health and schizophrenia programs, is the Koerner New Scientist and head of the new Kimel Translational Imaging-Genetics Research Laboratory at CAMH.

Generously supported by Michael and Sonja Koerner, the Koerner New Scientist Award was established to recognize an up-and-coming researcher just setting out at the start of their career. Similarly for Warren and Debbie Kimel, supporting Dr. Voineskos’s laboratory  is a way to propel an emerging area of research that holds a great deal of promise.

“Donor support for this work makes an enormous difference and accelerates progress for those that need it most ,” Dr. Voineskos says. “It provides the foundational support we need to pursue basic and translational research, both of which are powerful tools to improve our understanding and treatment of diseases.”

The research highlighted in the Globe and Mail involves a gene that codes for brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is crucial to maintaining healthy function of the brain’s memory centres and is responsible for learning and memory function.

Dr. Voineskos and his colleagues plan to investigate whether there are ways to boost the gene’s activity and keep brain cells alive for longer. They hope to find a new way to identify people at risk for Alzheimer’s and ultimately a treatment for a disease that has proven resistant to any of the drugs developed so far.

Dr. Voineskos recently spoke about the study and what the findings mean for future treatment and detection of the disease.

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