Volume 90, Issue 70

Wednesday, January 29, 1997



Corporate grant to help find cure for disease

By Joshua Budd
Gazette Staff

The discovery of two genes which may be the cause of early onset Alzheimer's disease has paid off big for researchers at the University of Toronto.

Yesterday, pharmaceutical company Schering Canada Inc. announced it would provide $9 million over three years to start a research collaboration with the university's centre for research in neural degenerative disease.

The goal of the collaboration is to develop a drug for the treatment and eventual cure of early-onset Alzheimer's, a hereditary form of the disease which attacks people aged 30 to 60-years old.

Dr. Georges Levesque, a post-doctoral fellow at U of T, said Schering Canada's interest in a collaboration came after researchers at the centre discovered two genes in June 1995 which they believed to be the cause of early-onset Alzheimer's.

The discovery, made under the supervision of Dr. Peter St. George-Hyslop, gives the centre a patent and exclusive rights to any research conducted with the presenilin 1 and 2 genes.

Scientists began the search for the presenilin genes in 1992 when George-Hyslop discovered a link between chromosome 14 and Alzheimer's disease. His discovery launched an international race to isolate the active genes in the chromosome, a race George-Hyslop and the centre at U of T eventually won, Levesque explained.

He added the centre must now figure out how the genes work. They already know the mutated presenilin 1 gene is found in 60 per cent of hereditary Alzheimer's cases and that 99.5 per cent of people who have the mutated gene will contract the disease.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997