Increases Funding to $100 Million to Accelerate Canadian Research into Brain Diseases of Aging
TORONTO – July 13, 2016 – In the battle against one of the greatest challenges of modern medicine, the Weston Brain Institute today sounded an alarm that without real advancements in treatment, the Canadian healthcare system and the country’s economy could be crippled by the effects of dementia within 20 years. At the same time the Weston Brain Institute committed to double-down on its unconventional support for revolutionary Canadian neurodegenerative research.
The W. Garfield Weston Foundation matched its original $50 million investment with an additional $50 million, enabling the Institute to continue to accelerate treatments by focusing on chronically underfunded projects in the phase of research between academic ideas and late-stage commercialization. While the need to support these projects is more important than ever, ‘translational research’, ironically, has become the metaphorical hole in the research doughnut. Not only are there no cures for brain diseases of aging, there is no way to slow their progress and essentially no treatments in the pipeline.
Today only slightly more than one per cent of all drugs in the final stage of development are for dementia. This, despite the fact that within a single generation almost one in seven Canadians - or 14 per cent of our population - will be directly affected. The global cost of dementia is currently $818 billion – exceeding the market value of companies such as Apple and Google. The impact on both the global and Canadian economy is expected to at least double in just one generation.
The Weston Brain Institute is the largest private funder of research on brain diseases of aging in Canada. It directs support entirely to translational research that helps turn discoveries into treatments. Because the need for action is so great in the space, the Institute implements a unique “more than money” philosophy to accelerate progress through streamlined approvals and by surrounding researchers with the business infrastructure that allows them to focus more on the science and less on the onerous administration associated with their work.
To date, the Weston Brain Institute has issued 91 grants and has released data that proves this business-based approach is making a difference, faster. Of the 23 completed projects to date, more than half have seen a significant step forward in scientific results that are ongoing.
“We have seen great success with our initial $50 million investment and we are determined to keep the momentum going by providing more funding and support to researchers who are bridging the gap between insight and impact,” said W. Galen Weston, Chairman and President of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation. Adding “Brain diseases of aging, including Alzheimer’s, are arguably the biggest issue facing medicine today. It is in the greatest interest of our country to find treatments.”
“Our organization has differentiated itself from others because we bring business solutions to supporting research, from a streamlined application process to additional support for grantees, including mentoring and commercialization support,” said Alexandra Stewart, Executive Director, Weston Brain Institute. Adding, “Our scientists need well-rounded support to effectively advance their research. Some of the best Canadian researchers are leaving this country for opportunities elsewhere, creating a brain drain of our best and brightest minds.”
About the Weston Brain Institute
The W. Garfield Weston Foundation established the Weston Brain Institute in 2014 with a fund of $50 million and a goal of accelerating the development of breakthrough treatments for neurodegenerative diseases of aging. The organization identified gaps in the research process within Canada and set out to fill these gaps to positively impact the millions of people affected by dementia including Alzheimer’s and the diseases of movement like Parkinson’s and ALS. The Institute’s focus is on translational research, which is the phase of research that literally translates new discoveries into treatments, an area that is significantly underfunded in Canada
The Institute continues The W. Garfield Weston Foundation’s long history of support for medical research, from funding the Banting and Best Institute in the 1960s, to establishing the first Canadian Chair of Nutrition at McGill University in the 1980s. More recently, the Foundation created The Dalglish Family 22q Clinic at University Health Network and the Weston Fellows at the Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Toronto. For more information about the Weston Brain Institute, visit: www.westonbraininstitute.ca, or find us on Facebook at facebook.com/WestonBrainInstitute or Twitter @WestonBrain
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 Gauthier et al. (2016). Why has therapy development for dementia failed in the last two decades? Alzheimer’s and Dementia. 60-64. (Page 1)
 Alzheimer’s Disease International. The World Alzheimer’s Report 2015. (https://www.alz.co.uk/sites/default/files/pdfs/global-impact-dementia-infographic.pdf)
 Alzheimer’s Disease International. The World Alzheimer’s Report 2015. (https://www.alz.co.uk/sites/default/files/pdfs/global-impact-dementia-infographic.pdf) and Alzheimer Society of Canada (www.alzheimer.ca)