An estimated 140,000 Ontarians, and more than 500,000 Canadians currently suffer from some form neurodegenerative disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and vascular cognitive impairment. All these diseases share a common and gradual decline in cognitive abilities and memory resulting from a progressive loss of brain cells or brain cell function. This affects an individual’s ability to work and socialize and the loss of independence places a huge burden on family and caregivers. The average annual cost to the health care system is approximately $30,000 for an individual with dementia. As our population ages, the number of people affected, and the cost of treatment is expected to rise dramatically. The Ontario Brain Institute challenged neuroscientists across the province to come up with a new approach to addressing neurodegenerative diseases, in the context of an Integrated Discovery Program. The Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative (ONDRI) program is a research program designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
The focus is on diseases that are inflicted with dementia: Alzheimer's disease/mild cognitive impairment, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and vascular cognitive impairment (resulting from stroke). The long-term observational study is seeking out the common early indicators and risk factors of the five diseases. ONDRI’s mandate is to ensure that the findings from the data collected are transformed into new diagnostic methods, improved clinical practice, and effective treatments.
The investigators involved in the program aim to perform eight assessments on each of the involved patients, including: Gait, genomics, neuroimaging, ocular –eye tracking, ocular –retinal nerve fibre thickness, neuroinformatics, neuropsychology and neuropathology. Researchers believe that this thorough analysis will give more insight into disease cause, development and treatment; and make way for better outcomes in the future.
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