Can we reprogram cells we already have to replace neurons damaged by ALS? This postdoctoral fellow wants to find out

Meet the junior researchers behind the 2022 ALS Canada – Brain Canada Trainee Awards Dr. Hussein Ghazale is the recipient of a $165,000 ALS Canada – Brain Canada 2022 Trainee Award. After finishing his PhD in France, Dr. Ghazale moved to Canada to work with Dr. Carol Schuurmans at Sunnybrook Research Institute. Her team examines […]

PhD student Lucia Jadon opens new pathways for ALS research

Meet the students who received the 2022 ALS Canada – Brain Canada Doctoral Awards PhD student Lucia Meng Qi Jadon (previously Liao) is the recipient of a $75,000 ALS Canada – Brain Canada 2022 Trainee Award. She will use the funding to investigate whether a newly discovered tag on TDP-43 might have an important role […]

Charlotte Manser is turning her grief into hope for other families facing ALS

Meet the students behind the 2022 ALS Canada – Brain Canada Trainee Awards Charlotte Manser is the recipient of a $75,000 ALS Canada – Brain Canada 2022 Trainee Award. As a PhD student at the University of Ottawa, she investigates how ALS-linked genes might contribute to the loss of normal stress granule formation.  When our […]

Award fills funding gap for international student exploring understudied causes of ALS

Meet the junior researchers who received the 2022 ALS Canada – Brain Canada Trainee Awards Donovan McDonald is the recipient of a $75,000 ALS Canada – Brain Canada 2022 Trainee Award. As a PhD student, he investigates how the function of tRNA could contribute to ALS disease processes. Donovan came to Canada from the Bahamas. […]

Funding allows a future change-maker in ALS to pursue innovative research

Meet Dr. Philip McGoldrick, recipient of the 2022 ALS Canada – Brain Canada Career Transition Award Dr. Philip McGoldrick, a researcher at the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Toronto, is the 2022 recipient of a $250,000 ALS Canada – Brain Canada Career Transition Award. This award helps launch talented […]

Dr. Alex Parker: Not giving up on the “hard problem” of ALS

Meet the researchers behind the winning 2022 Discovery Grant projects Could protecting the axon represent a promising treatment strategy for ALS?   Award: $300,000  Collaborators: Dr. Gary Armstrong, McGill University  Dr. Alex Parker, at the Centre de recherche du CHUM, Université de Montreal, is one of the first two recipients of the newly introduced three-year, $300,000 […]

Dr. Gary Shaw: Exploring how cells “take out the trash” to find new therapeutic targets in ALS

Meet the researchers behind the winning 2022 Discovery Grant projects Could improving the mechanisms of toxic protein disposal in motor neurons become a future treatment strategy?   Award: $125,000  Collaborators: Dr. Martin Duennwald, Western University, and Dr. Elizabeth Meiering, University of Waterloo Dr. Gary Shaw is a biochemist at Western University and one of the […]

Dr. Maria Vera Ugalde: Exploring a cellular mystery: why our bodies “paramedics” don’t work well in motor neurons

Meet the researchers behind the winning 2022 Discovery Grant projects Will this new way of looking at certain protective proteins better explain their role in ALS?   Award: $125,000  Collaborator: Dr. Heather D. Durham, McGill University As one of the 2022 ALS Canada-Brain Canada Discovery Grant awardees, she gets to take her expertise and apply […]

Dr. Christine Vande Velde: Keeping the mission “front of mind”

Meet the researchers behind the winning 2022 Discovery Grant projects What role does its sister protein play when restoring G3BP1 levels as a potential ALS treatment strategy?    Award: $125,000  Collaborators: Dr. Marlene Oeffinger, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM)   Dr. Christine Vande Velde is a cellular biologist at the Centre de recherche […]

Dr. Carlos Rodrigo Camara-Lemarroy: Shortening the timeline for accessible, translatable ALS treatments

Meet the researchers behind the winning 2022 Discovery Grant projects Can this routine and inexpensive procedure have a neuroprotective effect in ALS?   Award: $125,000  Collaborators: Dr. Minh Dang Nguyen, University of Calgary, and Dr. Deepak Kaushik, Memorial University of Newfoundland  Dr. Carlos Rodrigo Camara-Lemarroy is an early-career researcher and clinical neurologist based in Canada at […]

Drs. Maria Stepanova and Holger Wille: Two researchers bring together diverse expertise, from physics to structural biology, to find new insights

Meet the researchers behind the winning 2022 Discovery Grant projects Can computational methods aid in the design of key antibodies for the diagnosis and treatment of ALS?   Award: $125,000    Dr. Maria Stepanova, a physicist at the University of Alberta, is one of nine 2022 ALS Canada-Brain Canada Discovery Grant recipients. She works closely with […]

Dr. Thomas Durcan: 3D brain models will give new insights into ALS

Meet the researchers behind the winning 2022 Discovery Grant projects  Could this new 3D cell culture model help researchers better predict disease progression in ALS?   Award: $125,000  Collaborators: Dr. Yasser Iturria-Medina, McGill University    When Dr. Thomas Durcan, director of The Neuro’s Early Drug Discovery Unit (EDDU), found out his team had been awarded a […]

Dr. Renée Douville: How dormant retroviruses could open new targets for ALS treatment

Meet the researchers behind the winning 2022 Discovery Grant projects  Could this new mouse model help to understand the potential role of retroviruses in ALS and lead to new treatments?  Award: $125,000  Collaborators: Dr. Jody Haigh, University of Manitoba, and Dr. Domenico Di Curzio, St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre    When Dr. Renée Douville […]

Dr. Richard Robitaille: Building on ten years of momentum fueled by Discovery Grants

Meet the researchers behind the winning 2022 Discovery Grant projects Could the study of neuromuscular junction proteins aid in the development of essential biomarkers?   Award: $300,000  Collaborators: Dr. Danielle Arbour and Dr. Roberta Piovesana at the Université de Montréal, and Dr. Robert Bowser, Barrow Neurological Institute   Dr. Richard Robitaille, at the Université de Montréal, […]

How does a new experimental treatment for ALS behave within the body?

An international Canada-Israel research partnership is taking important steps to determine whether a known drug has the potential to become a viable treatment for people with ALS. Recently, using a mouse model, Dr. Eran Hornstein of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel showed that the antibiotic enoxacin holds promise at correcting a malfunctioning pathway […]

Is there a link between metabolism and ALS disease progression?

While a fast metabolism is often thought of as an asset, there is increasing evidence that in ALS patients, hypermetabolism could be linked to faster-progressing disease. Now, with funding from the ALS Society of Canada and Brain Canada, a team made up of Dr. Jasna Kriz (CERVO Brain Research Centre, Université Laval), Dr. Nicolas Dupré […]

How does the loss of the normal function of DNAJC7 cause ALS?

Thanks to new funding from the ALS Society of Canada and Brain Canada, Dr. Martin Duennwald of Western University, an expert on protein misfolding in neurodegenerative disease, is coming together with Dr. Sali Farhan, an up-and-coming Canadian researcher at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital). Together they will explore how mutations in DNAJC7 impede its ability […]

Can zebrafish help explain how mutations in this gene contribute to ALS?

An interdisciplinary Canadian team headed by Dr. Gary Armstrong of The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital)  is poised to explore how a recently linked pair of genes contribute to the onset of ALS. In 2014, mutations in a gene called CHCHD10 were newly identified as a genetic cause of ALS; just four years later, Dr. Eric […]

Is it possible to target the root cause of ALS linked to the C9ORF72 gene?

Dr. Christopher E. Pearson, a genetics expert based at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto and Full-Professor at the University of Toronto, has studied DNA repeat expansions, a type of genetic mutation common to neurodegenerative disease, for decades. Recently, his team successfully reversed one version of this type of mutation in a Huntington’s […]

Could mindfulness improve quality of life for people living with ALS?

Thanks to joint funding from Brain Canada and ALS Canada through the 2020 Discovery Grant Program, a team based at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) will be able to pioneer a study on mindfulness in ALS, with the goal of helping health care professionals, people living with ALS and their primary caregivers enjoy better quality […]

Could inflammation in this pathway provide a new target for ALS therapies?

A newly identified pathway has been piquing research interest around the world for its possible role in ALS. Recently, Canadian virologist Dr. Honglin Luo, in collaboration with her colleague Dr. Neil Cashman, discovered that an immune pathway known as cGAS-STING – a catchier abbreviation for cyclic GMP-AMP synthase-stimulator of interferon genes – is activated by […]

The Brain-Gut connection: Could a probiotic help delay the onset or severity of ALS symptoms?

The relationship between the gut and the brain has received increasing attention in recent years, and while there is evidence that probiotics support gut health – new research shows that probiotics may also have intriguing possibilities for applications in ALS. A team led by Dr. Alex Parker (Department of Neuroscience, CRCHUM, Université de Montréal), has […]

Can an animal model provide new insights into the formation of stress granules?

Alicia Dubinski may have inherited both her love for science and studying a neurodegenerative disease from her mother, a neuroscientist at the University of Toronto. When Dubinski was still a graduate student at the University of Waterloo, she met Dr. Christine Vande Velde at l’Université de Montréal in the Spring of 2019. She knew right […]

Can new understandings about nuclear speckles lead to new treatment options for ALS?

In 2018, Dr. Ulises Rodriguez Corona was looking for a new research field where he could apply his knowledge and expertise in the biology of protein production in cells and the genetic instructions that control their behaviour. When he learned of an opportunity to perform high-tech research on protein-protein interactions in RNA metabolism in Dr. […]

Could newly discovered tags on TDP-43 protein explain its abnormal behaviour in ALS?

Overhearing one conversation was all it took to spark a new idea that became a funded ALS research project. Terry Suk, a PhD student working in the lab of Dr. Maxime Rousseaux at the University of Ottawa, heard Dr. Rousseaux and another student discuss a list of proteins in the brain that are modified by […]

Is the loss of normal function of C9ORF72 protein in a particular cell type a key driver of ALS disease processes?

Rahul Kumar has a burning curiosity to uncover the biological mechanisms driving neurodegenerative diseases. After finishing his combined Bachelor of Science/Master of Science degrees at a prestigious research institute in India, he moved to Canada so he could work on ALS research. He joined Dr. Peter McPherson’s lab at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital […]

What is the role of a newly discovered protein in ALS?

Myriam Gagné was not expecting to work on ALS research. But the first time she saw Dr. Christine Vande Velde’s lab at l’Université de Montréal, it was “love at first sight.” Studying ALS would allow her to combine basic cell biology, neurosciences and biochemistry, her main academic areas of interest. She joined the lab in […]

Can the key to slowing ALS progression be found in the immune cells of the brain?

Microglia are the primary immune cells of the brain and spinal cord. They patrol the central nervous system to track down and dispose of unwanted cellular debris and dead neurons, as well as organisms like bacteria and viruses that pose a threat of infection. When they detect invaders, they change their behaviour to summon the […]

Partnering with the ALS community on a new assessment tool

When someone has a disease, like ALS, their quality of life is affected in many different ways as the disease progresses. “Quality of life can mean many different things to different people. For some, it means functional abilities, like walking to the mailbox, but for others, it may mean leisure activities, or family and social […]

Can new understandings about RNA granules explain types of ALS?

Over the past several years, ALS researchers have learned that little structures in motor neurons called RNA granules are one of the most common biological differences in people with ALS and frontotemporal dementia compared to people without those diseases. These small ball-like granules are made of RNA, molecules that relay the genetic instructions in DNA, […]

Does a previously unstudied protein play an important role in ALS?

A protein called TDP-43 is usually found inside the cell nucleus where it plays an essential role in regulating many cellular processes. But in 97 per cent of people with ALS and nearly half of the people with frontotemporal dementia, TDP-43 is found outside the cell nucleus in an area called the cytoplasm. Understanding why […]

Can antibodies help diagnosis ALS faster?

Current methods for diagnosing ALS can take up to two years and rely heavily on ruling out other conditions that share similar signs and symptoms. It is believed that by the time ALS is diagnosed, therapies may be less effective as the damage to neurons is too extensive. Therefore, a better way of diagnosing ALS […]

Does a viral infection play a role in ALS onset and progression?

A group of viruses called enteroviruses usually cause mild illnesses with symptoms that may include fever, respiratory issues and flu-like muscle aches, similar to the common cold. However, some can cause more serious health problems, such as enterovirus D68 that can cause severe respiratory illness or the poliovirus that causes polio. Some researchers have long […]

Can Advanced Brain Imaging Diagnose ALS Earlier?

Current methods for diagnosing ALS involve ruling out other diseases that share similar symptoms. As a result, it can take a year or more from the onset of symptoms to confirm a diagnosis of ALS. That’s far too long — especially for a disease that on average claims lives within two to five years after […]

Could decreasing the over-excitability of motor neurons be a new way to treat ALS?

Within the brain and spinal cord, neurons pass electrical signals to each other through specialized chemicals called neurotransmitters. When this signalling network functions properly, there is a good balance between chemicals that excite the neurons and chemicals that inhibit them. Both excitation and inhibition are necessary for the brain to function normally and send signals […]

Do newly-discovered alternative proteins play a role in ALS?

Proteins are essential building blocks the body uses to make tissues such as muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Conventional science assumes that a section of DNA known as a gene provides instructions for a single protein, or “encodes” a single protein. A molecule called messenger RNA carries those instructions for the production of one specific […]

Cutting-edge technology allows University of Toronto researchers to tackle ALS in a new way.

Scientists have discovered variation within different areas of the brain and spinal cord of people living with ALS — some areas show greater degeneration while others are unaffected. With a $125,000 project grant from the ALS Canada Research Program in 2018, Dr. Janice Robertson and Dr. Paul McKeever, a postdoctoral fellow in her lab, will […]

Can a revolutionary gene-editing tool create better animal models for studying ALS?

Animal models enable scientists to study human diseases in lab settings. They help scientists learn about the biological changes that occur during disease onset and progression, and they can also speed the identification of promising therapies for testing in future clinical trials with human volunteers. In 2005, when he was still a graduate student, Dr. […]

How are two of the most common occurrences in ALS related?

Scientific discoveries are like puzzles. At first, two puzzle pieces may not appear to fit together, but then a new way of comparing them makes it possible to see how they connect, helping to fill in the picture. Mutations in the C9ORF72 gene are the most common genetic cause of ALS. Another abnormality that occurs […]

Can measuring “biological age” explain why ALS affects people differently?

ALS manifests very differently among people who develop the disease. It can occur anytime in adulthood. People usually only live two to five years after diagnosis, but it can range from six months to more than 20 years. Some people living with ALS, about 30 to 50 percent, experience cognitive or behavioural difficulties. Why does […]