In The News

Ottawa Citizen: ‘Biggest breakthrough since antidepressants’ is turning lives around in Ottawa

January 27, 2017

John was suicidal, depressed and unresponsive to other treatment when he was accepted into a drug trial at the Royal Ottawa Hospital that he says saved his life. The Ottawa father of three, whose name is being withheld at his request, is one of a growing number of suicidal patients whose lives have been turned around through experimental treatment with a drug that has another life as a street drug known as Special K . Ketamine, a long-used anesthetic, is now being studied for its ability to rapidly stop suicidal thoughts in a high percentage of patients — including in John — when given intravenously. “I was suicidal. I was desperate,” the 50-year-old man said. After intravenous treatment with ketamine, he said, he started to feel better almost immediately. Although he has had some relapse of depression, it is more manageable, he said, because his suicidal thoughts are gone. “I am able to spend time with my kids, to at least feel like a normal human being. Before, I was one step away from getting into another world. Now those thoughts don’t bother me.” Dr. Pierre Blier, director of the mood disorders research unit at the Royal and a professor at the University of Ottawa, calls ketamine “the biggest breakthrough since the introduction of anti-depressants.” Read the full article here.

CBC: What’s in a name? Your shot at a job according to study

January 27, 2017

How your name sounds could mean the difference between getting a call back for a job interview and being ignored, according to a new study. Job seekers with Asian names — including Indian, Pakistani and Chinese names — are less likely to be called for interviews than people with anglo-sounding names, the study conducted by the University of Toronto and Ryerson University found. The study separated candidates into three different groups: Anglo-sounding names with Canadian qualifications Names used: Greg Johnson, Emily Brown Asian-sounding names with Canadian qualifications Names used: Lei Li, Xuiying Zhang, Samir Sharma, Tara Singh, Ali Saeed, Hina Chaudhry Asian-sounding names with foreign qualifications Despite having nearly identical education and experience, the second group — Asian-sounding names with Canadian qualifications — received twenty to forty per cent less callbacks than the first group. There was no significant difference in results among the Asian-sounding groups, which included names of Indian, Pakistani and Chinese origin. This is what study co-author, Rupa Banerjee, calls an employer's "implicit bias." Read full article here.

CBC: Dancing with Parkinson’s research

January 24, 2017

His body doesn't move quite so naturally anymore. His limbs often feel stiff. Every movement is an exercise of will. But when he's dancing to the strains of a soft waltz, 60-year-old Charles Dennis gets lost in the rhythm and for a brief moment forgets how desperately he wants to keep moving. "I find myself really getting caught up in the music and you forget about, you forget about having to make the movement, to be sure your arm is getting the message from your brain to move this way," says Dennis who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease last year. Choking back a sob, he adds, "They don't know what causes it. It'd be great to be part of the victory over it." Parkinson's is a neurological disorder that progressively robs a person's ability to move. It also affects co-ordination, balance, strength and can interfere with the ability to speak clearly. For nearly a decade Sarah Robichaud, a classically trained dancer, founder and instructor with Dancing with Parkinson's, has been seeing what scientists are now trying to prove. Read the full article here.

Globe and Mail: One-third of recent asthma cases may be misdiagnosed

January 17, 2017

One-third of people recently diagnosed with asthma may not actually have the condition, according to a new study from Canadian researchers that raises questions about rates of misdiagnosis.

Even though the asthma of some study subjects might have gone into remission, the findings suggest many others were wrongly diagnosed, possibly because doctors did not send them for simple lung-function tests.

“It just astounds me,” said Shawn Aaron, senior scientist and respirologist at the Ottawa Hospital and lead author of the study, published on Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Only half of the patients are getting the right testing, which sort of floors me.”

From January, 2012, to February, 2015, the researchers looked at more than 600 people in Canada’s 10 largest cities and their surrounding areas who were diagnosed with asthma in the five years before they joined the study. The researchers tested patients and reduced their medication use to assess whether the diagnoses were accurate, and determined that 203 of 613 participants did not have active asthma.

After a year, the researchers found more than 90 per cent of the patients who did not have asthma were able to stay off of medication. After one year, six out of the 203 individuals had to return to medication, while another 16 had positive tests indicating asthma but did not need drugs. The rest remained well and tested negative for asthma, Dr. Aaron said.

Read the full article here.

University Affairs: The promise of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging

January 17, 2017

It is massive in scope, logistically challenging and runs until 2033, but the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging is already providing insights into the process of aging, says its lead investigator. “More people are living longer worldwide, yet we have very little data that allows us to advance the science of aging or to inform policies and programs at the federal, provincial and municipal level,” said Parminder Raina, a geriatric epidemiologist and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Geroscience at McMaster University. “There is a great need for longitudinal data so we can understand what triggers sudden trajectories that people take as they age and what influences those trajectories.” Dr. Raina said he first became interested in how we age from observing his own grandparents. “My mother’s parents didn’t live so long and they didn’t have a particularly healthy aging process,” he said. “My mom’s side was a lot wealthier than my dad’s, but everyone on my dad’s side seemed to live forever. That always stayed in the back of my mind. Is it the environment, social factors, nutrition or genetics that created this differentiation?” Read the full article here.

McMaster News: Couch potatoes face same chance of dementia as those with genetic risk factors

January 13, 2017

Sedentary older adults with no genetic risk factors for dementia may be just as likely to develop the disease as those who are genetically predisposed, according to a major study which followed more than 1,600 Canadians over five years.

The findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, shed new light on the relationship between genes, lifestyle risk factors and dementia. 

Researchers, who tracked participants in the Canadian Study of Health and Aging, found that while carriers of a variant of the ‘apolipoprotein E’ genotype are more likely to develop dementia, inactivity dramatically increases the risk for non-carriers.

“The important message here is that being inactive may completely negate the protective effects of a healthy set of genes,” says Jennifer Heisz, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University and co-author of the study. 

Read the full article here.