uOttawa professor and Canada Research Chair in Brain and Mind discovers potential new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease

Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Tier 1 Canada Research Chair and professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine has discovered a potential new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease using a drug that blocks the activity of a receptor in the brain implicated in the cause of the disease.

In a paper published in Cell Reports, Professor Stephen Ferguson of the uOttawa Brain and Mind Research Institute (uOBMRI) and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Brain and Mind, presents new findings that suggest that blocking a glutamate receptor in the brain called mGluR5 results in improved memory and reduces neuronal pathology in Alzheimer’s mice.

Furthermore, tests show that a drug called CTEP can be used to block mGluR5 and prevent, or even reverse, cellular pathology in Alzheimer’s disease.

“CTEP has the potential to prevent memory loss if it is successful in humans,” says Ferguson, who is now working on expanding this research to further understand the mechanism by which mGluR5 contributes to Alzheimer’s pathology and how blocking it with the CTEP drug can reverse cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients.

Currently, the CTEP analogue Basimglurant is already in clinical trials for treating the fragile X syndrome in autism and major depression. Ferguson and his team of researchers at the University of Ottawa hope to repurpose that drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease as well.

“We have seen positive results in the lab, and we want to explore that further through a landmark drug trial,” explains Ferguson. “For the next steps, we want to get an idea of how long the drugs are effective and pinpoint the differences between male and female patients.”

Professor Ferguson joined the University of Ottawa in 2015 as a full professor in the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. He says he was especially drawn to this university because of the work being done at the uOttawa Brain and Mind Research Institute.

“The kind of interdisciplinary collaboration taking place between researchers at the uOBMRI is extremely positive for academic and clinical results,” says Ferguson. “And I am excited by the amount of support and investment the University is putting into supporting young scientists and young faculty.”

Media inquiries

Mila Roy
Media Relations Officer
University of Ottawa
Cell: 613-762-2908

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