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Transform The Neuro into an Open Science institution with global impact so that we can accelerate the pace of discovery and deliver effective new treatments and cures to patients with neurological disease.
Discover our vision for the future
Accelerating discovery to treat patients with neurological disease
With patients at the centre of our motivation, and driven by Open Science principles and transformative technology, we aim to accelerate innovation, discovery and improve care in four critical disease areas:
- Neurodegenerative Diseases
- Neurodevelopmental Disorders
- Brain Tumours
- Rare Neurological Disorders and Diseases
Parkinson’s disease and other Movement Disorders count among the most prevalent and fastest-growing neurodegenerative conditions. Parkinson’s alone affects more than 100,000 Canadians and 10 million people worldwide: these numbers are projected to grow by 50% in the next two decades. The characteristic tremors, limb rigidity, and gait and balance problems associated with Movement Disorders make day-to-day life difficult for patients and their families. Complications from these diseases can be serious and even fatal.
Today, an ALS diagnosis is a death sentence. About 3,000 Canadian adults and more than 200,000 people worldwide have ALS. Muscles progressively weaken to the point of paralysis and, ultimately, death. Most people survive less than three years following diagnosis.
Neurodevelopmental disorders include autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual or learning disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and schizophrenia, among others. They become evident in infancy or childhood and their impact extends throughout the lifespan. They affect more children than any other childhood disability, affecting an estimated one in six children in the world.
Although cancer has become more of a manageable disease, brain cancer remains a diagnosis that patients and family members dread. With good reason.
Brain tumours affect people of all ages. They are the leading cause of solid cancer (abnormal mass of tissue) death in children under the age of 20, and the third leading cause of solid cancer death in young adults, ages 20 to 39. Because brain tumours are located at the control center for thought, emotion, and movement, they can dramatically affect an individual's physical and cognitive abilities and quality of life.
Rare Neurological Disorders and Diseases
There are about 7,000 rare disorders and that they affect 1 in 12 Canadians, with many beginning in childhood. The age of onset of more than half of rare disorders and diseases is during childhood. Many are genetic and complex, involving multiple systems in the body. As patients and family members deal with the overwhelming challenges of rare neurological diseases, like spastic paraplegia, ARSACS, and ataxias, they face a dual burden.
First is the disease itself, which includes difficulties in controlling movement and loss of muscle strength; changes in speech, vision and gait; and spasticity (continuous contraction of certain muscles) so severe that patients can be confined to a wheelchair.
Second, they must live with the knowledge that most research funding and drug discovery efforts are focused on more common ailments, leaving them without clear diagnoses and with little hope of new treatments or cures.
More than 100 million people around the world suffer from a disease or disorder of the brain – and the number is increasing.
To meet this global challenge, we not only have to do more and do better; we need to radically transform our approach to brain science.
The Neuro is revolutionizing brain research in order to accelerate the discovery of new treatments and cures. Our strategy: Open Science.
As the first and still the only Open Science institution in the world, The Neuro is developing the tools and the infrastructure needed to support data and material sharing with the research community worldwide.
Bringing together expertise from across health and basic science disciplines. Working hand-in-hand with patients and their families. Sharing our research with a global community, and encouraging scientists worldwide to embrace this new way of doing research. Expanding the impact of our research – and growing scientific knowledge to deliver new treatments.
Our bold strategy has the promise to change how the world’s researchers advance neuroscience, and better capitalize on innovations in biomedical science and big data technology.
Driven by a pioneering vision and fueled by philanthropy, together we have the power to change millions of lives.
Leading the way to a new era of science through Open Science
In 2016, The Neuro became the first research institute in the world to adopt Open Science as an operating principle. This no-barrier approach to scientific research is gaining ground within the academic community.
Open Science promises to accelerate research, improve the quality of results, and reinvent discovery itself. We want to accelerate the discovery of novel therapeutics to treat patients suffering from neurological disease through our Open Science initiatives and the latest in brain imaging technology:
- An Open Neurological Diseases Repository: A game-changing, open biobank collection that we will share with our research partners in order to feed the discovery of biomarkers to improve diagnosis, accelerate drug development and open up new areas of research.
- A unique Open Early-Drug-Discovery Unit: Our unique early-drug-discovery unit removes proprietary barriers that prevent institutions from sharing early-stage data, allowing research partners to identify and test drug targets collaboratively, and collaborate with pharmaceuticals to develop new drugs. This will result in new drugs moving more quickly to clinical trials, and ultimately, in better therapies for patients.
- A robust Open Data-Analytics and Data-Sharing Platform: Scientists at The Neuro have been pioneering neuroinformatics platforms since the early 1990s. We will integrate, analyze and share neuroscience data safely and usably with our researcher partners via sophisticated software and a special infrastructure developed by our neuroinformatics experts.
- A world-leading Open Multi-modal Brain Imaging Centre: For more than 30 years, our McConnell Brain Imaging Centre has led the world in state-of-the-art imaging technologies. In 2019, we took the next step, creating a Centre for Ultra-High-Field Brain Imaging, which includes Canada’s first whole body 7T MRI scanner. By further enhancing our imaging capability and integrating it into our multi-disciplinary research, we will better understand the development of the mechanisms of disease, give more precise diagnostics, and advance the testing of potential drugs.