Quebec doctors, scientists looking for early signs of Alzheimer’s

WATCH: A vast three-year research project is under way to try and understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease. As Global’s Caroline Plante reports, experts insist finding a cure is urgent.

QUEBEC CITY – Eighty-one-year-old Gilles Clermont-Drolet knows how ravaging Alzheimer’s disease can be – he’s seen a friend with the disease slowly retreat into her own private world.

“She’s losing interest in some part of her life,” he said.

“She reads a piece of paper, but does not remember what she was reading.”

But there’s hope.

A new consortium of Quebec doctors has announced it will test 350 participants over the next three years to try to find the causes, detect early symptoms and get closer to a cure for the devastating disease.

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Clermont-Drolet signed up and will be required to give blood and go through medical and psycho-cognitive exams.

“Depression, diabetes, physical inactivity, hypertension, those are modifiable factors of the disease,” said Dr. Carol Hudon, a neuro-psychologist who teaches at Laval University.

“We believe if we modify those factors, we could reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

In 2008, one in 11 Canadians over the age of 65 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Hudon predicted that by 2038, that statistic would grow to one in eight Canadians with treatment costing over $150 billion – the equivalent of Quebec’s GDP.

Nathalie Gagnon from Quebec City’s Alzheimer Society wants the Quebec government to continue financing research to identify causes.

“This $2.5 million consortium is positive,” she told Global News.

“Early diagnosis will lead to lifestyle changes that may help stall the disease.”

Anyone wanting to learn more about the study can go to the CIMA-Q website.

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