Neuroscience Research Program

Neurodegenerative / Multiple Sclerosis

Co-Theme Leads - David G. Munoz and Corinne Fischer

Neurodegenerative/MS research at St. Michael’s Hospital spans multiple diseases and involves both basic science and clinical applications. We are involved in identifying the basic mechanisms that lead to these diseases, improved diagnostic procedures and pharmacological management. Being the largest MS centre in the country, we have a large concentration of patients that facilitates clinical drug trials in this population. In terms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, our investigators have a proven track record of success in such areas as neuropathology, neuro-optics, neuroimaging, neuropsychiatry and clinical drug trials. We are fully affiliated with local, regional and national research initiatives in this area, including the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance, Ontario Brain Institute and Brain Canada. Finally, we are also interested in understanding the impact of lifestyle factors such as bilingualism, art and socioeconomic status on clinical disease expression.

Approaches used in the area of neurodegenerative disease:

  • Clinical epidemiology
  • Clinical trials
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuropathology
  • Drug discovery through zebra-fish and other animal models models

Areas of research St. Michael’s neurodegenerative scientists are investigating include:

  • Dementia
    • Neurobehavioural symptoms in dementia and their neuropsychological correlates, including Delusions and abnormal cognitive functioning in the elderly
    • Socioeconomic status effects on dementia (cognitive enhancers in inner city populations)
    • Alzheimer’s disease variants
    • Pathological basis of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
    • Inflammatory mechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease
  • Eye diseases
    • Retina and optic nerve as models to study neurodegenerative disease (e.g. glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and Alzheimer disease)
    • Lymphatics in drainage of fluid and proteins from the eye for neurodegenerative and other brain diseases
    • Glaucoma as a neurodegenerative disease
  • Movement disorders
    • Dystonia
    • Parkinsonism
      • Including gastro-intestinal involvement
  • Multiple sclerosis
    • Clinical trials of different putative MS treatments including a monoclonal antibody to CD20, CD52 as well as teriflunomide and fingolimod
    • Novel MS therapies
    • Development of MS treatment guidelines