Research

The research activities of our integrated interdisciplinary team are focused and driven by the needs of patients and families attending UBCH CARD. 

The Alzheimer disease research programs at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health are led by a team of distinguished investigators with expertise spanning the continuum from discovery research to translational and clinical research. These individuals—many of whom have achieved the highest honours of their profession—are internationally renowned for their field-changing contributions, including discoveries on the genetics and inheritance of the dementias, elucidation of the causes and potential novel treatment targets for Alzheimer disease, and contributing to the reshaping of the field toward earlier intervention and disease prevention.  

The program is deeply committed to ensuring that research progress is translated seamlessly to clinical care through its engagement in the development of clinical practice guidelines, public policy, and through leadership on national/global research initiatives. 

The clinic strives to be at the vanguard of Alzheimer disease care, engaging in research to investigate the disease from all angles, including the root causes and underlying mechanisms for effective prevention, early detection, advanced treatment, and interventions to improve quality of life. 

 

Currently Enrolling research studies (2017)

Interventional
A4 Study

The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether the use of solanezumab, a monoclonal antibody which binds to amyloid beta, can slow memory loss in participants who may be at risk of developing Alzheimer disease (AD). Amyloid beta is a component of amyloid plaques which are found in patients with AD. It is thought that AD-related damage to the brain begins many years before the symptoms of memory loss emerge, and is hoped that starting treatment very early will help slow the progression of memory loss.

DIAN-TU Study

The study evaluates whether 2 amyloid lowering agents, solenezumab, or gantenerumab, both antibodies which bind to amyloid beta, can prevent or delay the onset of memory loss in subjects who are at risk of developing memory problems due to an autosomal dominant genetically inherited form of AD. Participants do not have to know about their genetic status, but there must be a proven mutation in the family.

AMARANTH Study

The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether the use of a new investigational drug, a BACE1 inhibitor, can slow the progress of early AD by reducing beta-amyloid formation.

ENGAGE study

The primary objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of monthly doses of aducanumab in slowing memory loss in people diagnosed with MCI or AD. The protein amyloid beta is found in higher amount s in the brains of people with AD. Aducanumab is a recombinant human monoclonal antibody that binds to amyloid in the brain and therefore may remove existing plaques.

CRE-AD Study

The primary objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of monthly doses of creneuzumab in slowing memory loss in people diagnosed with MCI or AD. The protein amyloid beta is found in higher amount s in the brains of people with AD. Creneuzumab is a recombinant human monoclonal antibody that binds to amyloid in the brain and therefore may remove existing plaques.

SARTAN-AD study

The study investigators are examining whether certain types of blood pressure medications may have an added benefit of slowing the progression of AD. The two blood pressure medications being compared in this study are called telmisartan and perindopril. Both medications are commonly used and currently approved by Health Canada for treating high blood pressure.

A MINT for AD Phase 1 Study

The purpose of this study is to learn about the safety and tolerability of a supplement containing a type of dietary fat called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are a unique type of fat, with the richest dietary sources being coconut and palm oils. A growing body of evidence suggests MCT dietary supplements can provide the brain with an alternate source of fuel that may enhance cognition and preserve everyday function in individuals at risk of or affected by Alzheimer disease (AD). This phase 1 study aims to determine the safety and tolerability of this dietary supplement across a range of doses and whether it improves some of the brain metabolic impairments in early disease. For those with mild to moderate severity AD. For more information please contact Penny Slack at 604-822-6379 or pslack@mail.ubc.ca.

View the Study Poster

 

Observational
FTD Study

The purpose of this study is to identify the biochemical and genetic basis of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and to better understand the clinical and cognitive features of the disease. These data may improve our diagnostic techniques and lead to new treatments for FTD. To date our research group has identified two novel gene mutations that cause FTD (Progranulin and C9ORF72).

ARTFL Study

The purpose of this study is to build a Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD) clinical research consortium to support the development of FTLD therapies for future clinical trials. The consortium, “Advancing Research and Treatment for Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration” (ARTFL) will bring together leading behavioural and movement disorder researchers across North America.

LEFFTDS

This study is being done to learn more about normal thinking and behaviour, mild thinking and behaviour problems, FTD and other forms of dementia in families in which one or more relatives have a mutation in one of the three major genes associated with FTD (GRN, MAPT and C9ORF72).

Mixed Dementia Study

The purpose of this study is to characterize ‘mixed dementia’ and determine the signs and symptoms of this condition. This information may help us with the early identification and treatment of the disease.

Transcranial Doppler in Cognition Study

The purpose of this study is to better understand changes in the blood vessels in the brain in patients with mild cognitive problems and dementia. Using ultrasound (a type of sound wave) the doctors will be able to make measurements of the blood flow in arteries in the brain. This information will help the researchers to understand how damage to the blood (vascular disease) relates to dementia.

MITNEC study

The aim of this study is to look at usefulness of imaging studies, genetic tests and measurements of memory and thinking in AD and white matter disease. By using these advanced techniques we can compare changes in the brain over a year.

Canadian Familial Alzheimer Disease Study (CanFAD)

The purpose of this study is to establish a database of individuals from families in which AD affects 2 or more closely-related family members and begins at age 65 or younger. Participants in this study include clinic patients and/or their family members. This study involves collecting family history information and blood samples from both affected and unaffected individuals in these families in order to develop a better understanding of the disease mechanism with the hope of developing effective treatments. The CanFAD database may also serve to identify individuals who are eligible for future studies such as prevention and treatment trials. Genetic counselling is available to all study participants.

COMPASS-ND Study

This observational study, conducted by the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration and Aging (CCNA), will evaluate the usefulness of imaging studies, clinical assessments, and biomarker tests, together with measurements of memory, thinking, and daily functioning, for assessing different sorts of cognitive and movement changes seen in older adults.

The CARD Study

The goal of this study is to gather as much information as possible on all patients referred for a clinical assessment. Blood samples collected for DNA extraction, serum and plasma banking may identify biomarkers and risk-factor genes associated with a particular type of dementia. These discoveries may lead to an improved diagnosis and treatment of dementia.

Upcoming research studies

Interventional
AZT-OP1 Study

The purpose of this study is to test the effects of two drugs on Alzheimer Disease-Cromolyn sodium and Ibuprofen. This research will investigate whether one drug or the combination of the two has any effect on your dementia. It will examine any side-effects that one might experience. To make a fair comparison, a placebo will be used. The duration of this study for participants is 72 months.

Oxytocin bvFTD Study

The clinical trial will investigate whether oxytocin has any effect on controlling some of the behavioural symptoms in FTD. We will also monitor for any side-effects that one might experience during the treatment period. The duration of this study is 12 weeks.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in progressive non-fluent aphasia (PNFA

This is a pilot study to investigate whether transcranial magnetic simulation has any beneficial effect on speech and language function in patients with PNFA. It is a 12-week cross over study and speech function will be measured before and after TMS treatments.

 

Observational
ADNI-3

This study is a continuation of the ADNI-2 study and will open to enrolment of new participants. The purpose of this study is to collect brain scans, blood samples, memory test scores, and cerebrospinal fluid from people with AD, MCI, or no memory impairment. These data may help characterize the early stages of AD, and shape the criteria for earlier diagnosis and treatment of AD. They may also influence future clinical trials that focus on identifying and treating early AD.

Ongoing, but closed to enrollment

Interventional
FYN Study

The protein Fyn kinase may play a fundamental role in the pathway by which neurons are damaged in AD. AZD0530 (saracatinib), a selective inhibitor of Src family kinases including Fyn, was previously developed as a cancer therapy but may hold greater promise as a treatment for AD. FYN study researchers will use PET imaging and other measures to evaluate whether AZD0530 is well-tolerated and effective in slowing disease progression in patients with mild-AD.

 

Observational
ADNI-2

The purpose of this study is to collect brain scans, blood samples, memory test scores, and cerebrospinal fluid from people with AD, MCI, or no memory impairment. These data may help characterize the early stages of AD, and shape the criteria for earlier diagnosis and treatment of AD. They may also influence future clinical trials that focus on identifying and treating early AD.

Social Cognition Study

In this study we are looking at the differences between how people with behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD) do on tests of social cognition (for example putting themselves in someone else’s shoes and recognizing emotions) compared to people with depression and healthy control participants. The goal is to develop a short bedside test that can differentiate bvFTD from depression to help to better diagnose and get care for people with bvFTD who may otherwise be misdiagnosed with depression.