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2014 Molly Appeal supports neuroscience research in the Maritimes
All proceeds of Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation’s 35th annual Molly Appeal will be used to expand the Maritime Brain Tissue Bank for neuroscience research at Dalhousie Medical School and the Brain Repair Centre.
“The Maritime Brain Tissue Bank is an essential research facility that enables us to carefully store and study donated tissues, so we can understand the pathology of brain and nervous system diseases,” says Dr. Sultan Darvesh, a Dalhousie neurologist, professor and scientist who earlier this year was appointed Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation’s DMRF-Irene MacDonald Sobey Endowed Chair in Curative Approaches to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Dr. Darvesh established the Maritime Brain Tissue Bank 20 years ago to study brains affected by Alzheimer’s disease. His examinations led him to the discovery of butyrylcholinesterase, or BChE, an enzyme that gathers around the plaques and tangles of brains in Alzheimer’s. He and his team have since developed this finding into the world’s first technology for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease in a living person’s brain.
“The only way to positively identify Alzheimer’s disease has been to examine the patient’s brain after death,” notes Dr. Darvesh. “This technology is a huge advance that opens the door to the possibility of diagnosing Alzheimer’s early enough to stop the disease in its tracks.” He and his team will rely on the Maritime Brain Tissue Bank in their search for an agent to block BChE and prevent Alzheimer’s disease from progressing.
All funds donated to the 2014 Molly Appeal will be used to expand the Maritime Brain Tissue Bank so that it can store more data and more brain and spinal cord tissues—not just from donors with Alzheimer’s disease, but from those with ALS, epilepsy, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and a host of other brain and nervous system diseases.
“An expanded brain tissue bank will be a powerful resource for the neuroscience research community,” says Dr. Victor Rafuse, a leading ALS researcher and director of the Brain Repair Centre. “The ability to identify chemical, molecular and structural changes in human brain and spinal cord tissues, at various stages of disease, provides tremendous insights into the disease processes and how they can be both detected and stopped.”
Dr. Alon Friedman—recently recruited to Dalhousie from Ben-Gurion University in Israel to become the new William Dennis Chair in Epilepsy Research—will use the Maritime Brain Tissue Bank to learn more about how damage to blood vessels in the brain leads to such problems as epilepsy, mild-to-severe cognitive impairments and Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Friedman is already launching projects with local collaborators to develop new technologies for detecting and repairing vascular damage, and other brain changes, before the development of disease.
Learn more about the Maritime Brain Tissue Bank [PDF - 194KB].
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