“I’ve always been fascinated by the ways in which the brain forms and retains memories,” says Matthew Parsons (pictured).
This fascination became even more intense for the professor when, as an adult, he had family members diagnosed with dementia. After that happened, he saw his loved one’s very sense of memory and self change.
“While we’ve come a long way in our understanding of this disease, there is still so much to learn,” Dr. Parsons notes of dementia.
Lately, in his own research, Parsons has been exploring “Alzheimer’s disease at the level of the synapse – the tiny space where one brain cell communicates with another.” He explains that usually synapse communication breaks down “well before any cell death occurs” in Alzheimer’s.
By looking at those early stages of Alzheimer’s disease where cell communication breaks down, Parsons, along with his research lab colleagues at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador, are hoping to find ways to intervene in those early stages – and thus slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease in general.
The need for progress on a cure couldn’t be more urgent.
“Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that strips away your cognitive function and sense of self, affects one in 20 Canadians over the age of 65,” Parsons explains. “Without further research, 30 people you know will develop Alzheimer’s disease.”
Parsons has also been researching cell-communication problems – and possible solutions – in relation to Huntington disease dementia too.
Find out more in the ASRP Exchange’s upcoming free webinar: "Strengthening brain cells: Determining the failure of brain cell communication in Alzheimer's disease."