07/13/2011 03:08 EDT | Updated 09/12/2011 05:12 EDT

Prion, Neurodegenerative Diseases Focus Of $2.9 Million In Funding: PrioNet Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS -- VANCOUVER - Dozens of Canadian researchers at nine different universities will share $2.9 million in funding for the study of prion diseases and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

PrioNet Canada, a national network of research in prion disease based in Vancouver, says the funds will support 11 projects ranging from treatment for Lou Gherig's disease to an oral vaccine for chronic wasting disease in deer and elk.

PrioNet's Dr. Neil Cashman says the funds will help researchers to better understand the biology of prion diseases, such as mad cow disease and scrapie in sheep and goats, which could then advance the treatment of human disorders.

Among the recipients, five researchers at UBC, the University of Alberta and the University of Toronto are hoping to develop a therapy that will slow the progression of ALS, or Lou Gherig's disease.

A group of researchers at the University of Alberta will look at the risk factors of chronic wasting disease in wild deer and elk and ways to mitigate the effects of an outbreak.

And another collaboration between the University of Victoria, University of Alberta and the University of Western Ontario will look at the molecular mechanisms of prion disease.