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London researchers awarded $1.35M to complete dementia research

London researchers have received a $1.35-million grant to fund dementia research.
London researchers have received a $1.35-million grant to fund dementia research. Getty Images

The Lawson Health Research Institute says it has been award $1.35 million to complete research on dementia and other neurodegenerative illnesses.

The funding, spread over the course of five years, comes through the second phase of a collaborative research program titled the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA).

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The research is being led by Dr. Manuel Montero-Odasso, whose previous work includes findings on the relationship between cognition and mobility in the elderly as well as research into using gait as a predictor of frailty and dementia.

Montero-Odasso will be leading the London-based Mobility, Exercise and Cognition (MEC) team, which is comprised of researchers specializing in mobility, exercise and brain health.

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Phase 1 of the research saw the CCNA foster a 20-team collaboration among Canadian researchers, with the hope of combining research efforts.

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“We created a national network of researchers, from west to east coast, with a high level of expertise to deliver lifestyle interventions to improve cognition and slow down progression to dementia,” Montero-Odasso said.

“I feel privileged working with such excellent investigators and leading this important endeavour locally.”

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The majority of the $1.35 million awarded to the MEC team will fund the synchronizing exercises and remedies on gait and cognition (SYNERGIC) trial.

The SYNERGIC trial will test a triple intervention made up of physical exercise, cognitive training and vitamin D supplementation to see its impact on treating mobility and cognition.

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Participants in the London-based trial will be given an individualized and progressive routine of exercises and cognitive training to be conducted three times a week over the course of six months. There will be a final assessment of the participants at 12 months.

The Parkwood Institute on Wellington Road will serve as the main site for the SYNERGIC trial, with physical exercises taking place at the Labatt Health Sciences building on the Western University campus.

Montero-Odasso says the research will be vital in treating Canada’s aging population.

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“Over half a million Canadians are currently living with dementia. By 2031, this number is expected to nearly double,” Montero-Odasso said.

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Nearly 140 participants have been recruited for the trial in multiple sites across Canada.

Those over the age of 60 with mild cognitive impairment and without dementia are eligible to participate.

Those interested in taking part are asked to contact a Lawson research co-ordinator at 519-685-4292 ext. 42910.