September is World Alzheimer’s Month. This year’s theme is “Dementia: A journey of caring.” September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day, a global action day to improve the quality of life of Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers and support Alzheimer’s associations around the world.
On September 19, INRS director general Daniel Coderre and INRS–Institut Armand-Frappier Centre director Charles M. Dozois announced the creation of the Louise and André Charron Research Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease. Funded by a generous gift from the Louise and André Charron family to the Armand-Frappier Foundation of INRS University, the chair’s research program will focus on prevention, early detection, and improved treatment of the disease, which is a growing problem in North America and around the world. Professor Charles Ramassamy of the INRS–Institut Armand-Frappier Centre is the first chairholder.
Over 35 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease, including more than 450,000 in Canada alone. Based on current data, if no action is taken, 65 million people around the world will have the disease by 2030, and that number will grow to 115 million by 2050. By the time Alzheimer’s symptoms appear, 80% of the neurons involved in cognitive processing have degenerated and considerable damage has already been done. When the disease is diagnosed, the goal of treatment is to alleviate symptoms rather than to control the disease.
“In light of the alarming number of families affected by Alzheimer’s disease, there is an urgent need to get to the root of this scourge. In our view, fundamental research holds the most promise for eradicating the disease,” said André B. Charron, a member of the donor family.
Toward better patient care
For Professor Ramassamy, developing early detection tools for Alzheimer’s disease is the first step in providing better patient care and improving patient quality of life. “We are looking for biomarkers that can not only show that neurodegeneration has begun in a patient, but also provide more insight into the stage of the disease. From there, clinical teams may be able to slow the progression of the disease or treat it, with the hope that patients will be able to maintain their independence for as long as possible.”
What’s more, current pharmacological treatments for Alzheimer’s disease often have serious side effects that can interrupt treatment and negatively affect patient quality of life. The chair’s research program will tackle this problem by identifying less toxic therapeutic molecules—mainly plant- and food-derived polyphenols—and harnessing nanoparticles to deliver them to the brain more efficiently, resulting in smaller doses.
“Under the direction of Professor Charles Ramassamy, this new research chair will not only develop innovative strategies for preventing and fighting Alzheimer’s disease, it will also bring hope to current and future patients and their families. This generous gift from the Louise and André Charron family is a testament to our researchers’ expertise and will help advance critical understanding of the disease in order to improve people’s health and well-being,” explained INRS director general Daniel Coderre.
Institut national de recherche scientifique (INRS) is a graduate-level research and training university and ranks first in Canada for research intensity (average grant funding per faculty member). INRS brings together some 150 professors and close to 700 students and postdoctoral fellows at its four centres in Montreal, Quebec City, Laval, and Varennes. Its applied and fundamental research is essential to the advancement of science in Quebec and internationally even as it plays a key role in the development of concrete solutions to the problems faced by our society.
About Armand-Frappier Foundation of INRS University
The Armand-Frappier Foundation of INRS University is a non-profit organization that actively contributes to the advancement of INRS research into some of our society’s most pressing problems, solutions to which could change the world.