A Western University scientist will be one of eight Canadian researchers heading to Brazil next week to help find solutions to illnesses that know no borders, including prion diseases and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Western’s Dr. Marco Prado, who is also a professor at the Robarts Research Institute, will be participating in meetings in São Paolo from March 7-8. The main goal is to exploit research and development opportunities between Canada and Brazil.
“Researchers in Brazil are making great strides in their discoveries related to prion and neurodegenerative diseases,” Prado said in a news release. “A scientific exchange will help Canada accelerate commercialization of the discoveries and build a stronger knowledge economy.”
Western won’t be the only post-secondary school participating in the trip — scientists from the University of British Columbia, the University of Alberta and Montreal’s McGill University will also be attending.
Prado, a Brazil native, took his Canadian post at Western in 2008 where he set up a new research lab at London’s university.
This initiative was supported, in part, by the PrioNet Canada’s Recruitment Grant.
With that funding, Prado developed novel animal models to help find solutions for Alzheimer’s disease and identified therapeutic targets in prion diseases.
Prions are proteins that, when mis-folded, become unique infectious agents that can spread from cell to cell causing damage. This mechanism has been found in a wide range of neurological disorders, from animal diseases such as “mad cow” disease to such human neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
At the meetings in March, nearly 100 attendees, including representatives from the Canadian Consulate and the Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo, private-sector companies, and scientists from both countries, will showcase their research developments in prion and neurodegenerative research to encourage industrial collaborations.
These developments range from the role of cell signaling in neurodegeneration to new molecular targets which when manipulated can help stop the progression of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
PrioNet is co-hosting the event in partnership with the Alberta Prion Research Institute based in Alberta with additional support from the FAPESP and Hospital A.C. Carmago in Brazil.
Dr. Neil Cashman, the scientific director of PrioNet Canada and one of the event’s co-hosts, said that in order for Canada to conduct world-leading research, international collaborations need to be supported.
Cashman explained that like the recent globalization of communications, technology and business, the globalization of science is the fuel for innovation and economic growth. He added that multinational collaborations among different scientific communities have become powerful tools to strengthen research.