Western receives $600,000 to study Prion diseases

The University of Western Ontario is one of nine universities sharing $2.9 million dollars in research grants to study Prion diseases and neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s.

Prion diseases are fatal, infectious and transmissible neurodegenerative diseases affecting both humans and animals.

The research team from Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry includes Marco Prado, Jane Rylett, Stephen Ferguson, Vania Prado, John MacDonald, James Choy, Rob Bartha, Michael Strong and Ravi Menon. Other collaborators are Neil Cashman from UBC, and Vilma Martins and Glaucia Hajj at the A. C. Camargo Hospital in Brazil.

The team will receive $600,000 to investigate whether the prion protein could be a therapeutic target in Alzheimer disease.

“Both Alzheimer’s and Prion are neurodegenerative diseases, and in both neurons die,” explains Prado, a scientist at the Robarts Research Institute. “We are starting to realize that prion protein, which plays a major role in Prion diseases, might also play a role in Alzheimer’s by interacting with amyloid beta, one of the toxins in Alzheimer’s. This interaction could affect the way neurons function, or may even cause their death.”