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About the brain repair group (PI: Dr. Isabelle Aubert)

The brain repair group, under the direction of Dr. Isabelle Aubert, aims to identify therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. It is characterized by pathological hallmarks, such as the deposit of amyloid-beta peptides (Aβ) and neuronal loss. Cholinergic neurons, containing the enzyme choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) and able to synthesize the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, are among the neurons that degenerate in Alzheimer's disease. Acetylcholine is a key player in cognitive function; as the disease progresses, cholinergic neurons deteriorate, ChAT levels decrease and the amount of acetylcholine present in the brain becomes insufficient for the maintenance of adequate learning and memory functions.

To stimulate brain repair, prevent further degeneration and improve cognitive functions, we are developing novel approaches to be able to do the following:

  • Noninvasively deliver therapeutic molecules, including anti-amyloid agents, genes and stem cells to the brain
  • Promote neuronal survival, axonal growth and adult neurogenesis
  • Stimulate ChAT activity and the production of acetylcholine

Dr. Kullervo Hynynen, director of imaging research at Sunnybrook Research Institute, and Dr. JoAnne McLaurin are close collaborators on projects related to the noninvasive delivery of anti-amyloid agents to the brain.

The Brain Research Group led by Dr. Isabelle Aubert at Sunnybrook Research Institute is developing new ways to treat Alzheimer's disease.

A typical pathological feature of a person with Alzheimer's disease is the accumulation of toxic amyloid-beta in the brain. In this short movie, lab members Emmanuel Thévenot and Jessica Jordão describe the use of a software from Imaris to evaluate the volume of a brain cell found in proximity to amyloid-beta deposits, called plaques.

Studying the volume of brain cells in relationship to amyloid plaques can lead to a better understanding of disease progression in, and treatment alternatives for, Alzheimer's.