ADDF and W. Garfield Weston Foundation Collaborate to Fund Clinical Trial in Alzheimer’s

January 28, 2014

Category: Initiatives

The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation of Canada (ADDF-Canada) and The W. Garfield Weston Foundation today announced a new funding collaboration to support a clinical trial investigating the potential for hypertension drugs to slow Alzheimer’s disease progression. The trial will be led by Dr. Sandra Black and the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance at the University of Toronto.

“Hypertension has been suggested to be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease for almost 30 years, yet we have not adequately translated this knowledge into the clinic for the benefit of patients. Dr. Black’s study will begin to address this important issue in a novel study design, investigating the possibility that some anti-hypertensive agents may also be neuroprotective,” said Howard Fillit, MD, executive director and chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. “We are grateful to The W. Garfield Weston Foundation for their collaboration in funding this important work.”

Different classes of anti-hypertensive drugs may have different effects on the brain beyond just blood pressure control. In this study, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), will be compared for the treatment of hypertension in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.  ARBs, but not ACEIs, have been shown to both improve cognition in animal studies and interfere with disease processes involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Clinical trials designed to directly compare these two anti-hypertensive drug classes in patients with Alzheimer’s disease  have not yet been performed.

“Our exploratory clinical study will compare ARBs versus ACEIs in a “face-off” to slow brain degeneration in people with Alzheimer’s disease who are already taking medications to control blood pressure,” said Dr. Sandra Black, the executive director of the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance and research program director at Sunnybrook Research Institute at the University of Toronto. “We will use brain imaging, and measure cognition and quality of life over a one year period to  compare the rate of brain shrinkage in the people on ACEIs vs. ARBs.”

If positive, this study would  lead to practice-changing implications, especially for hypertension control in Alzheimer’s patients.  Funding for this trial, which will cost $992,388USD, was made possible through a generous grant by The W. Garfield Weston Foundation to ADDF-Canada.

"With a new mandate to accelerate the development of safe and effective breakthrough treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation is pleased to support Dr. Black's compelling research through ADDF-Canada," said W. Galen Weston, chairman and president of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation. 

About Sunnybrook Research Institute

Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) is the research enterprise of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto. Scientists at SRI strive to understand and prevent disease, and to develop treatments that enhance and extend life. Our vision is to invent the future of health care. The 270 scientists working at SRI are renowned for excellence in the biological, physical and evaluative clinical sciences. Areas of expertise are diseases of the brain and heart; cancer; musculoskeletal conditions; rehabilitation; trauma, emergency and critical care; women and babies, and veterans and community. Each year, SRI conducts over $120 million in research across 450,000 square feet, including in the world’s first Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics. For more information, visit

About Toronto Dementia Research Alliance

Established by the Toronto Academic Health Science Network in mid-2009, the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance (TDRA) is a coalition of the five memory/dementia clinics affiliated with the University of Toronto (Baycrest, Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, St. Michael’s Hospital, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and University Health Network), who have come together for the purpose of creating a new paradigm for collaborative clinical research in dementia, to quickly translate basic research discoveries into clinical trials. The TDRA’s ultimate goal is to mitigate suffering from neurodegenerative disorders through understanding mechanisms and through finding better targets for disease modification and earlier means to detect and treat these diseases. The TDRA administrative core consists of: Executive Director, Dr. Sandra Black; Director of Strategy, Dr. Barry Greenberg; Program Manager, Dr. Ellie Aghdassi; and Project Coordinator, Dr. Ljubica Zotovic.

About The W. Garfield Weston Foundation

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation is a private Canadian family foundation, established in the 1950’s by Willard Garfield Weston and his wife Reta. In 1924 Garfield inherited his father’s company and during his life established baking and retail businesses throughout Canada and in many parts of the world. The founders believed that as the funds are generated through the hard work and success of his Canadian companies, grants should be given in Canada for the benefit of Canadians. For three generations, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation has maintained a family tradition of supporting charitable organizations across Canada. Today the Foundation directs the majority of its funds to projects in the fields of neuroscience, land conservation, education, and scientific research in Canada’s North.