U of S provides funding for childhood neurological disease research

SASKATOON - The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and the Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay Foundation are working together to fund medical research on a devastating neurodegenerative disease that first appears in toddlers just as they are beginning to walk.

The funding is coming from the University of Saskatchewan’s Richardson Family Fund and will support research currently underway at the Montreal Neurologic Institute, McGill University.

“We are very excited to be involved in the funding of this impressive project,” said Larry Richardson, a member of the family who is helping to fund the project. “We are hopeful and excited about this inter-provincial collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan.”

Autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay, more commonly known as ARSACS, affects the part of the brain that co-ordinates movement. The disease results from alterations to one specific human gene and leads to unco-ordinated movements and muscle stiffness, among other debilitating symptoms.

Drs. Peter McPherson and Edward Fon, researchers at the Montreal Neurologic Institute have recently discovered a prominent cellular alteration in animal models of ARSACS. However, the researchers have been unable to explore the cellular defects in human models of ARSACS.

Their new research proposes to use cells from skin biopsies of human ARSACS patients to generate stem cells that can be converted to human neurons. Study of these neurons over the course of this two-year research proposal will provide new insights into the cellular defects underlying ARSACS.

The Richardson Family Fund was established at the U of S to support innovative research that will lead to improved understanding and treatment of spastic ataxia. Dr. Richard Huntsman, Division of Neurology, Department of Pediatrics, U of S, will facilitate the work of Drs. McPherson and Fon.

The funding partnership between the ARSACS Foundation and the Richardson Family Fund will help propel this essential and groundbreaking research, and the alliance with the U of S the Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay Foundation's commitment to finding a treatment for the disease.



 For more information, contact:

Dr. Richard Huntsman
Pediatric Neurology, College of Medicine
306-844-1236 | dr.huntsman@usask.ca


Kate Blau
Communications Specialist, College of Medicine
306-966-6059 | kate.blau@usask.ca

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