Four London researchers are leading the charge in the battle against age related illnesses, joining over 300 researchers and scientists as part of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, or the (CCNA).
The CCNA is a collaborative research effort focused on tackling the challenge of neurodegenerative illnesses like dementia and Parkinson’s disease. The effort is supported by 13 groups of public and private sectors, as-well as $31.5-million over a five year period from the Government of Canada.
The goal of the CCNA initiative is to gain insight into the causes, pathology, identification, treatment, and prevention of age related neurodegenerative diseases.
“Some of the preventions may in fact be associated with lifestyle changes, changes in diet, changes in exercise, changes in social interaction and general activities. We are also interested in learning more about improving the quality of life for individuals who develop these diseases and also what can be done to help the caregivers and families,” said Jane Rylett, Professor at the Schulich School of Medicine and Scientist at the Robart Institute.
As the elderly population grows, so do the strains on our healthcare system from individuals who develop neurodegenerative diseases.
“If you look at the Canadian population demographic, the population over the age of 65 -in particular over the age of 80- is growing rapidly. These individuals are at risk of developing neurological and neurodegenerative diseases. As we go forward in the next few years the number of individuals who have these types of diseases are expected to double every 20 years,” Rylett said.
This alarming number of increased illnesses wont only cost our healthcare, it would also put strains on human costs for individuals who become ill, their caretakers, and their families.
Few neurodegenerative diseases have treatments. Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease have a small handful of treatment options while other disorders like ALS have no treatments.
“These are very difficult disorders and diseases to be able to develop therapies for because usually theirs not a single treatment for any of these diseases. They really require a much more broad approach. There may never be a single treatment for these diseases,” Rylett said.
The consortium’s plan is to focus on looking for early diagnostic aspects of the diseases. This will allow them to diagnose the illnesses earlier, ultimately leading to early treatment and intervention which will be very important in delaying the onset and course of the diseases.