The purpose of the Firefly Spark Award is to support unique, creative research ideas that will impact brain health and prevent, defer or effectively treat neurodegenerative disease.
In 2016 the award was given to Laura Hamilton from Université de Montréal. Her study aims to fill in important gaps in our understanding of the role of lipids in underlying the cognitive deficits seen in Alzheimer’s disease and provide important clues as to if this drug can be useful for intervention and/or prevention of cognitive deficits in patients with AD.
Laura told us that she has always been fascinated by how the brain controls behaviour. When deciding on a research project, the thought of what it must be like to slowly have pieces of yourself disappear connected me to Alzheimer`s disease.
Although the first case of Alzheimer`s disease was diagnosed over 100 years ago, Alzheimer`s disease remains the most prominent and devastating neurological disorder of our time and still has no cure or disease modifying therapies. Thus, the potential to contribute to a better quality of life for millions of people motivates me every day.
Why she thinks you should care?? “The brain is the command center for everything in the body. Understanding the brain and the pathologies it presents as well as how they impact the lives of people should be the cornerstone of research. For the future of humanity, I would urge donors to continue to direct dollar to the study of the brain and Alzheimer`s disease.”
spark award: $100,000
This project aims to test the efficiency of a new therapeutic target stearoyl coa desaturase (SCD)-1 to ameliorate learning and memory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) using a mouse model. The global incentive to find treatments and a cure for AD grows every day. We have recently reported that the brains of patients who died from AD have accumulations of fat droplets. In this study, we will find out what triggers the fats to build-up in the brain and using pharmacological inhibition of SCD-1, the enzyme that produces fat in the brain, we will determine if this is sufficient to improve learning and memory. This study will fill in important gaps in our understanding of the role of lipids in underlying the cognitive deficits seen in AD and provide important clues as to if this drug can be useful for intervention and/or prevention of cognitive deficits in patients with AD.