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Part the Cloud: Alzheimer’s Researcher Dr. Krista Lanctôt Focuses on How Brain Stimulation, Combined with Exercise, Benefits Cognition

Part the Cloud: Alzheimer’s Researcher Dr. Krista Lanctôt Focuses on How Brain Stimulation, Combined with Exercise, Benefits Cognition
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October 12, 2022
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At a very early age, Krista Lanctôt, Ph.D., had a curiosity and thirst for knowledge. She knew that her mother, a nurse, would give her aspirin when she had pain. When she asked her mother how the aspirin worked, her mother didn’t know the answer. So Dr. Lanctôt decided to find out.

Years later, when she became a pharmacologist, Dr. Lanctôt's first lecture focused on non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and she discussed how aspirin works due to an enzyme that produces hormone-like messenger molecules that trigger inflammation, which causes pain.
It was while pursuing her doctorate that Krista first became interested in Alzheimer’s disease. She noticed that many people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia were prescribed antipsychotics at a long-term care home on her campus; however, there was no rationale that she understood for why specific medications were chosen to treat the individuals. “I thought that we could do better,” Dr. Lanctôt says. She wanted to help develop more personalized solutions to treat the individual's behaviors, and this is where her interest in the vascular contributions to Alzheimer’s disease began.

Impact of Part the Cloud

As an active researcher in clinical pharmacology, Dr. Lanctôt’s research focuses on neurocognitive disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular cognitive impairment, with a specific interest in neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as apathy and agitation. She is grateful to have been funded directly by Part the Cloud, which has provided funding to build a strong foundation for her studies from the beginning. “Part the Cloud focuses on research that is poised to make changes in care and treatment more quickly,” she says. “The impact has been immense and has allowed me to get clinical trials off the ground and running.”
Part the Cloud — which accelerates scientific progress in Alzheimer's research by funding the most promising early phase studies — has funded 65 projects across the globe, including research in Taiwan, Israel, Australia and Canada. Two studies being run by Dr. Lanctôt are among these projects.  
Dr. Lanctôt's first Part the Cloud-funded clinical trial, Exercise as a primer for excitatory stimulation in VCIND (EXPRESS-V), looks at the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a type of brain stimulation, paired with a personalized exercise regimen. She’s hopeful about these methods as treatments; tDCS has already been shown to initiate improvement in some smaller studies.
Her second Part the Cloud-funded clinical trial looks at whether oxidative stress, which occurs when antioxidant levels are low, may be higher in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and if it is in the brain, what specific areas of the brain may be affected. 

"We Need More People to Participate in Clinical Trials" 

A proponent for preventive and personalized care, including exercise, Dr. Lanctôt says what is good for the heart is good for the brain, “even more so in people who have vascular risk factors. If they are already seeing signs of something going on with the heart, it is probably going on in the blood vessels in the brain as well. As part of healthy living, exercise is crucial.”

Expressing thanks to all those who get involved in clinical trials, and their caregivers, Dr. Lanctôt says they are all heroes. “You can make an impact just by donating time. Although participants may not get an immediate benefit, they are altruistic, thinking of those who come after them. There are so many ways to make a difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s, and volunteering for a clinical trial is one.”

About: Dr. Krista Lanctôt delivered her plenary presentation, “Apathy in Neurodegenerative Diseases,” at the 2022 Alzheimer's Association International Conference. This two-time Part the Cloud grant awardee encourages more people to join clinical trials. “Regardless of what group you are in, receiving a treatment or placebo, just by participating, you may see improvements overall.” She thanks all those dedicated to the fight to end Alzheimer’s.

Related articles:
Part the Cloud
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

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