Research Highlights

Published: Jun 25, 2019

Latest research news from

Padmaja Genesh, Learning Specialist



  • On care

Virtual Reality May Improve Quality of Life of people with dementia

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Kent, Virtual reality may help improve the quality of life for people with dementia, including those with Alzheimer’s disease, by stimulating them to recall past memories, modify behaviour, and connect with caregivers.

 The study involved participants using a virtual reality headset that offers five virtual environments to “visit,” including a cathedral, a forest, a sandy beach, a rocky beach, and a countryside scene. The participants were assessed for mood and behaviours, following virtual reality sessions of 15 minutes duration.

One of the key findings was that virtual reality helped patients “escape” their limited environment and recall old memories. The virtual session improved their mood and motivation to engage in other activities such as art sessions. Importantly, some challenging behaviour changes were nearly eliminated after these sessions.


  • On Cure

Antibodies That Target Neurotoxic Proteins in Alzheimer’s Are Identified

ProMIS Neurosciences researchers have discovered new antibody candidates that selectively bind to the neurotoxic form of the tau protein — one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease.


These new antibodies join the company’s PMN310, a humanized antibody that attacks only toxic forms of the amyloid beta protein linked to Alzheimer’s.


Therapeutic approaches aimed at decreasing beta-amyloid and tau levels have so far failed. While there’s still no effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, investigators remain hopeful that targeting the toxic forms of both these proteins can become a potential therapeutic strategy against the disease.



  •  On Risk Reduction

Statins May Mitigate Concussion-related Alzheimer’s Risk in Older Adults

A population-based study reported that older people who experienced a concussion have about double the risk of developing dementia in subsequent years compared with a similar age group in the general population.

The researchers reported that among older adults with concussion,  those who were taking a statin drug had 13 per cent lower risk for developing dementia over the years than people who were not on a cholesterol-lowering drug around the time of their concussion.

The finding, drawn from data on nearly 30,000 patients with a concussion— ages 66 or older in Ontario, Canada,—provides a hint that there might be some role for statin drugs in the treatment of concussion in older adults.  A randomized, controlled clinical trial would be needed to test this approach and determine its effectiveness.

Lead investigator Donald Redelmeier, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, added that these new findings might provide another reason to prescribe a statin to someone who has elevated cardiovascular risk.


Study Strengthens Link between Hepatitis C Virus and Parkinson’s Disease

Epidemiology has tied infection with hepatitis C to increased risk for Parkinson’s disease. By surveying medical records of nearly 200,000 patients, researchers led by Ying-Zu Huang and Rou-Shayn Chen, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taoyuan, Taiwan, concluded that giving people interferon for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection lowers their risk of subsequently developing this neurodegenerative disease. Published June 5 in JAMA Neurology, the paper does not establish cause and effect but, all the same, it argues that HCV infection may be a modifiable risk factor for PD.

  • Treating hepatitis C lowers rates of future Parkinson’s, by about 25%.
  • The virus might be a modifiable risk factor for PD.
  • Supports emerging evidence that infections contribute to neurodegeneration.