The elderly in our society are the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population. By 2016, 17% of Canadians will be at least 65 years old, and as the population ages, the number of Alzheimer’s cases will rise accordingly.

The Douglas is home to one of the top Alzheimer’s research teams in the world – that of Judes Poirier, PhD, CQ – who have already identified the first genetic risk factor involved in the common form of Alzheimer’s.

Poirier and other colleagues at the Douglas’ Centre for Studies on Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease are now focusing on ways to prevent the illness before it causes irreparable damage to the brain. This Centre is headed by John Breitner, MD, a global expert recruited from the US by the Douglas.

Early Intervention for Better Outcome

Judes Poirier explains that “By the time the patient walks into a doctor’s office complaining about memory loss, about 60 to 70% of the brain cells involved in the disease process are already dead. It’s too late. This is why we need to detect high-risk individuals sooner, before parts of the brain start to degenerate.” In other words, we don’t need to cure the disease if we can prevent it or delay it.

Furthermore, Poirier elaborates that we do not need to delay the disease indefinitely. If the onset of Alzheimer’s were delayed by simply five years, there would be a decrease of 50% in the number of cases – that’s half of its current burden and mortality.

Researchers at the Centre for Studies on Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease are considering five prevention factors that have already shown promise in previous research: anti-inflammatory drugs, inhaled insulin, physical exercise, cognitive training activities, and certain heart medications.

The Douglas Needs Your Help

To carry out studies that test these preventive factors, Douglas researchers need the help of 500 volunteers who will commit to undergoing tests annually over a period of 7 – 10 years. Specifically, they are seeking healthy men and women over the age of 60 with an immediate family member (father, mother, brother or sister) who suffers or suffered from Alzheimer's. For more information, please call the study’s toll-free number: 1-855-888-4485.

If you would like to support research into healthy aging and preventing Alzheimer’s, please make a donation today.