London scientists get nearly $1.35M for dementia research

A model of the human brain, illustrating how dementia may occur. © Can Stock Photo / srikijt

A team of London-based scientists have been given a multi-million dollar funding boost to continue their research into dementia over the next five years.

The Mobility, Exercise, and Cognition (MEC) Team will receive $1.345 million through the second phase of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA). The funding was announced Monday as part of Canada’s national dementia strategy.

“Evidence from other countries with national dementia strategies shows that coordinated, targeted efforts at the national level improves results for all aspects of dementia care and also for research,” said Dr. Montero-Odasso, MEC team lead, geriatrician, and Lawson Health Research Institute scientist.

The first phase of CCNA was to create infrastructure fostering collaboration among Canadian researchers and led to 20 teams being assembled with a focus on tackling the challenges of dementia.

“This kind of effective national collaboration by scientists and clinicians from many disciplines gives the CCNA a cutting edge in research, prevention, treatment, and management of all forms of dementia,” said Montero-ODasso, who is also the director of the Gait and Brain Lab at London’s Parkwood Institute. “We created a national network of researchers from west to east coast with a high level of expertise to deliver lifestyle interventions to improve cognition and slow down progression to dementia. I feel privileged working with such excellent investigators and leading this important endeavour locally.”

MEC will use the bulk of the new funding to complete the synergic trial, synchronizing exercises and remedies on gait and cognition. The clinical study uses a triple intervention to treat mild cognitive impairment and delay the onset of dementia. It incorporates physical exercises and cognitive training, along with vitamin D supplementation to determine the best treatment for improving mobility and cognition.

The 138 study participants recruited so far across Canada have to complete an individualized and progressive routine of exercises and cognitive training three times a week for six months, with one final assessment at 12 months.

“Our preliminary analysis is giving us a strong indication that a multimodal approach, combining physical exercise, cognitive training, and supplementation, has a synergistic effect. It seems the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Dr. Montero-Odasso.

The study, based at Parkwood Institute, is still looking for more participants. Anyone over 60 years old with mild cognitive impairment without dementia who is interested in participating in the clinical trial is asked to contact a Lawson research coordinator at 519-685-4292 ext. 42910.