Type of project: Basic, Translational, Nutraceutical, Mind and Body
Principal Investigator: Dr. Mathew Hill
Institutions Affiliated: University of Calgary
Students: Kowther Hassan (UGRAD), Haley Vecchiarelli (UGRAD), Kira Leitl (UGRAD), Maya Sohn (UGRAD),
Andrei Nastase (UGRAD)
Awards funded to project: 5
Background: Stress inhibits endocannabinoid signaling within the amygdala, which results in anxiety. Exactly how this process occurs is not well understood, though this project seeks to explore this phenomenon. These studies have looked at how this processes is affected by features of the environment, whether its different between males and females, and how it might be different in autoimmune conditions.
Implications: Marijuana has been reported to have anti-anxiety properties by acting on the endocannabinoid system and this project explores the process by which this might occur. While marijuana could be used to achieve these effects, other studies have indicated that exercise would result in similar increases in endocannabinoids, offering a natural option to manage anxiety.
Type of project: Basic, Mind and Body
Principal Investigator: Dr. Clayton Dickson
Institutions Affiliated: University of Alberta
Students: Jeremy Viczko(UGRAD), Ty McKinney (UGRAD), Jonathan Dubue (UGRAD), Brandon Hauer (UGRAD)
Awards funded to project: 3
Background: The hippocampus is the brain region important for forming new memories as well as retrieving old ones. Long term memory was previously thought to depend on the formation of new proteins, but recent evidence has suggested that the computational aspects of the hippocampus might be more important for understanding memory.
Findings: Two studies have explored the impact of inhibiting either all protein synthesis or a specific protein thought to maintain memory (PKMzeta). Both studies have shown that inhibiting intracellular protein function has detrimental effects for neural activity (how neuron’s fire and process information), suggesting that rather than trying to change memory processing through pharmacological mechanisms we instead try to change the way the neurons fire. A third study explored the role of breathing in potentially modulating that activity, but the final conclusion was that breathing did not affect how the hippocampus processes memory.
Implications: The implications of this project are two fold. First it shows that pharmacological methods to change behaviour have side effects that can compromise their efficacy, suggesting that alternative methods of influencing behaviour be explored. Second, these results give insight into the nature of neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change itself), which could be a very useful tool in helping change maladaptive behaviours and thought processes.
Type of project: Translational, Nutraceutical and Personalized Medicine
Principal Investigator: Dr. K Ming Chan
Institutions Affiliated: Grant MacEwan University
Student: Christopher Clarke (UGRAD)
Awards funded to project:1
Background: Acetyl-L-Carnitine is a dietary supplement that aids in many metabolic processes, and has recently been considered as a treatment option for neuropathic pain. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a disorder characterized by such neuropathic pain that has had limited success in treatment by conventional measures. This project first set out to develop a diagnostic tool for neuropathic pain to evaluate whether Acetyl-L-Carnitine would be an effective treatment option.
Findings: Using principles of neurotransmission, hot and cold water applications were used to assess pain sensory dysfunction in patients and controls. The diagnostic test was successful in separating patients from controls, demonstrating its utility in assessment in pain-based disorders.
Implications: With an adequate assessment tool, Acetyl-L-Carnitine can be properly evaluated as a possible treatment for neuropathic pain, such as those found in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
People with Parkinson's Disease often struggle to walk properly, since the part of their brain important for initiating movement decays. But why walk when you can dance? Paradoxically, many people with Parkinson's can still dance to music. Check out the video on the right to see this in action. Abulosono is a music-based biofeedback program that uses this important feature of music to help re-train the brain's of people with Parkinson's to walk normally.
Kailie Luan, Undergraduate Student
Dr. Bin Hu
University of CalgaryDr. Hu's Website
Think about how critical walking is to your every day life. From the moment you wake up, you have to walk around your home, around your neighborhood, and your community. For people with Parkinson's, simply walking down the hall can feel as challenging as walking for miles up a steep hill. Successfully getting down the hall can be a draining act, and many people might feel too frustrated to even try sometimes. Ambulosono can help make walking a much more manageable task for people with Parkinson's, which in turn can greatly increase their overall quality of life. While there are medications that can help out with Parkinson's, they are often only work for a while. Having another option, like Ambulosono, can help people reduce their dosage, or save drug-based approaches for later in life when they might be more necessary.
So far, Ambulosono has had some very promising initial findings at multiple different research sites. The next step is to start to scale things up so that this treatment can be brought to a wider range of people struggling from Parkinson's Disease.
Amount Funded: $16,000Support Innovative Research by Donating Today!
If you have Parkinson's, one of the best ways to learn about this NeurCAM would be to participate in an Ambulosono study.