My wife and I had the pleasure of attending the first annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Gala sponsored by the Canadian Global Initiative Against Alzheimer’s Disease.
The November 14th event was hosted by Jay Ingram, a noted Canadian science journalist and writer of several books including
The End of Memory. The attentive crowd included the honorable Patrick Brown, MPP and leader of the provincial opposition and the honourable David Zimmer, MPP and Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. In his remarks, Patrick Brown emphasized the devastating impact of this disease and his party’s support of any government initiative that would work to combat it.
Headlining the evening was Dr. David Morgan, CEO of the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer Institute at the University of South Florida. Dr. Morgan challenged the audience early in his remarks with the question: What is the greatest risk factor for contracting Alzheimer’s disease? His answer – too many birthdays! That is, of all the contributing factors, your age is the best predictor of your chance of contracting the disease. Reviewing the science to date, he noted that 110 years ago, Dr. Alois Alzheimer first published his findings where he identified amyloid plaques and neuron fibre tangles which are to this day the key physiological markers of the disease.
Dr. Morgan also described a number of exciting trials underway to test therapies to thwart a buildup of beta-amyloid plaque in brain tissue and a neuron tangling protein called Tau. He felt confident that when these trials wind up in 2020, we may have the evidence needed to develop effective pharmacological therapies to prevent or to slow the on-set of the disease.
Let’s hope he is right.