Researchers Alex Parker and Pierre Drapeau have discovered a promising medication for the treatment of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Experiments conducted on worms, zebrafish and mice, and, in a limited clinical trial with human subjects, have concluded that pimozide is potentially effective as a treatment. This medication prescribed for schizophrenia could turn out to be useful for treating ALS. The results of their work were published in the journal JCI Insight in November 2017.
“This is a major scientific advancement. There are currently only two approved treatments for this deadly disease. We think that pimozide will be more effective in improving the quality of life of patients,” stated CRCHUM researcher and Université de Montréal professor Alex Parker.
“The CHUM is currently taking part in a national clinical trial involving 100 patients to test the safety and efficacy of pimozide on these volunteers. If the results of this study led by Dr. Lawrence Korngut of the University of Calgary are conclusive, pimozide could soon be offered to ALS patients,” added CRCHUM researcher and Université de Montréal professor Pierre Drapeau.
Marie-Hélène Mayrand, M.D., Ph. D., Award of Excellence ‒ Young Researcher
Dr. Marie-Hélène Mayrand, a researcher and gynecologist at the CHUM, has earned the 2017 Research Award of Excellence in the “young researcher” category, which recognizes the outstanding scientific contribution of a researcher whose research program has been in existence for less than ten years.
A medical specialist and epidemiologist, Dr. Mayrand conducts research in the area of women’s health, helping to improve gynecological cancer screening and prevent diseases related to the human papillomavirus (HPV). She is also interested in optimizing obstetrics and gynecology professional practices. The recipient of salary awards and many major research grants, she has published more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals and contributed to more than a hundred conferences in Quebec, Canada and abroad.
She also collaborates with the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) and the Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS), drafting public health advisories related to cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination.
Julie Bruneau, M.D., M. Sc., Award of Excellence ‒ Career
A researcher and doctor, the head of the CHUM’s general medicine department and a professor at the Université de Montréal, Dr. Julie Bruneau is a leader in addiction medicine. She earned the 2017 Award of Excellence in the “career” category in recognition of her outstanding scientific contributions and her leadership throughout her professional career.
Early in her career, Bruneau quickly noticed that addicts were often discriminated against in the health system. Fighting the health-care inequalities that these people face would become the main thread guiding her research. In 1988, along with Drs. François Lamothe, Jean Vincelette, Eduardo Franco and Julio Soto, she led the first Canadian study on the prevalence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among injection drug users. Over the years, her work and public pronouncements have helped transform perceptions and approaches vis-à-vis addicts. Among other things, she showed the importance of the role of needle exchange programs and the effectiveness of agonist treatments in the prevention of HIV and hepatitis C infections.
“There is still a lot to be done to eliminate inequalities and health care approaches when dealing with drug users,” explained Bruneau.
As the director of the Quebec ‒ Atlantic node of the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM), Bruneau heads several innovative projects aimed at resolving the opioid crisis.
“With the current opioid crisis, we are saving lives. But we cannot stop at managing overdose cases. We need to make sure that people who use opioids have access to the best health care possible and are considered full-fledged citizens in society. Ultimately, I hope that people struggling with substance abuse will be entitled to accessible health care and services without prejudice, at any stage of their chronic disease called addiction,” stated Bruneau.
About the CRCHUM Research Awards of Excellence
Presented annually since 2012, the CRCHUM Research Awards of Excellence are honorary awards given to CHUM researchers who make significant contributions to the advancement of health research. The awardees are selected from among the institution’s 150 or so regular researchers.
Video of the award winners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JtcXJhAtJI