Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative (ONDRI)

In the first phase of ONDRI (1.0) we developed a pan-Ontario research consortium that, for the first time, integrated a wide range of experimental, clinical, imaging and epidemiological expertise to specifically address the phenotypic sequelae of degenerative cognitive impairment in the aging population. Our secondary objective was to understand the contribution of small vessel disease changes to disease presentation/cognition in aging and neurodegenerative diseases.

Our exceedingly rich program of integrated data, including clinical, biological (neuroimaging, genomics, eye-tracking, retinal optical coherence tomography), cognitive (neuropsychological), and functional (gait and balance, quality of life, activities of daily living) measures are being applied across five diseases (AD, ALS, CVD, FTD, PD), and over time to develop a unique, cross-neurodegenerative disease longitudinal cohort. We also banked valuable biological samples (serum, plasma, DNA) from this cohort for future use.

The renewal phase (ONDRI 2.0) will extend this work to complete AIM 1 and add new foci (AIMS 2-4) working toward our ultimate goal of advancing care and improving outcomes.

Importance of our research

The human population is rapidly aging and the cost of caring for dependent elderly will profoundly affect social and healthcare systems. Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability and debilitation in Canada’s senior population. It costs Canadians billions of dollars per year – a figure expected to grow tenfold during the next 20 years including a tenfold increase in demand for long-term care. It’s estimated that more than 100,000 Canadians will develop dementia in the coming year and that more than 500,000 Canadians are currently afflicted. Tools for earlier diagnosis and disease-modifying interventions are needed now to alter these alarming trends. Early diagnosis can provide valuable time to put in place intervention strategies and treatments that can delay and soften the impact of neurodegenerative disease. ONDRI is looking for earlier predictors.