Newswise — December 13, 2016 —

Funding for clinical trials of a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease has been announced by the Weston Brain Institute. Dr. Zahra Moussavi, Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering, is receiving $1,737,960 for her project on investigating the efficacy of high-frequency rTMS treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease has no known cure and is called the pandemic of the century. Recent trials applying repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in Alzheimer’s patients have reported encouraging results in improving or stabilizing cognition. This proposal is the first large placebo-controlled double-blind study designed with sufficient statistical rigor to measure the efficacy of rTMS treatment in Alzheimer’s.

“The Weston Brain Institute is pleased to support this kind of critical high-risk, high-reward work,” said Alexandra Stewart, Executive Director at the Weston Brain Institute.

“If successful, Dr. Moussavi’s work with rTMS will be a significant step forward in developing effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease,” Stewart said.

Moussavi will lead a team of local, national and international collaborators on this research that includes: Drs. Mandana Modirrousta (Psychiatry), Colleen Millikin (Clinical Health Psychology), Xikui Wang (Statistics), Behzad Mansouri (Neurology), and Craig Omelan (Psychiatry) in collaboration with colleagues from McGill (Montreal – Drs. Lesley Fellows and Lisa Koski) and Monash (Australia – Dr. Paul Fitzgerald) universities.

“All Manitobans will benefit from the research discoveries this funding will fuel,” says Dr. John (Jay) Doering, Associate Vice-President (Partnerships) at the University of Manitoba. “New treatments for Alzheimer’s disease are being sought worldwide. Dr. Moussavi’s research program will result in better quality of life for patients, families and caregivers.”

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a procedure in which a current passes through a coil placed on the scalp producing a magnetic field. The magnetic field passes through the skull to the brain, wherein a small current is induced. Application of repetitive(r) TMS at either low or high frequencies has been used for treatment of many neurological and neurodegenerative disorders but is still at the research stage in all except depression, for which rTMS is approved for treatment worldwide.

“Thanks to participants of my pilot study on rTMS treatment for Alzheimer’s, whose encouraging results made it possible to get funded for this large multi-center clinical trial, I am excited to start this study,” says Moussavi. “I am optimistic that rTMS treatment can help to slow the progression of the disease if applied at early and moderate stages.”

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

Chris Rutkowski, UM Today

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