Taking action to help people affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Jan 7, 2019

Alberta Innovates is playing an important role in unlocking the secrets of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. More than 42,000 Albertans currently live with a diagnosis of dementia — that number could more than triple within 30 years. This would mean 155,000 Albertans would be living with dementia by 2048. Dementia is a devastating, costly and chronic disease that has a powerful ripple effect that impacts our families, communities, care facilities and society overall.

This disease is not a normal part of ageing, but Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia and accounts for about 60 per cent of the cases. There are no treatments to reverse its’ progression and there is no cure. The greatest known risk factor is increasing age: most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older.

In the past six years, we invested over $2.9 million in Alzheimer’s research.

We’ve partnered with Baycrest-led Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation to address the needs of older adults with dementia and test Alberta market-ready innovations. We co-fund the Alberta Alzheimer Research Program through the Alberta Prion Research Institute to help researchers better understand the fundamental mechanisms of the disease and improves the quality of life of those with Alzheimer’s disease. This program runs in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta & Northwest Territories.

We support researchers who have developed tools to help diagnose dementia before symptoms appear:

  • Dr. Eric Smith is searching to provide better diagnostic markers to identify patients in earlier stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If successful, the team will have created the first accurate blood-based diagnostic test.
  • Dr. Richard Frayne teamed up with Dr. Smith to create a tool that optimizes MRI evaluations by reducing the time-consuming human manipulations needed for brain imaging. The tool has already been adopted nationally and has gained international attention.
  • Drs. Shigeki Tsutsui and Peter Stys are using spectral image analysis to detect early Alzheimer’s disease and to search for other biomarkers to measure disease progression and response to drug treatment.

January is Alzheimer’s Awareness month. See how the Government of Alberta has committed to addressing dementia as a health and societal issue in its Alberta Dementia Strategy and Action Plan.