Second Canadian scientist alleges brain illness investigation was shut down

A senior Canadian federal scientist has raised concerns that the government halted an investigation into a mysterious brain illness in New Brunswick, possibly affecting 350 individuals. This scientist is the second to accuse authorities of deliberately stopping the investigation and claiming the number of cases is higher than officially reported.

Initially, health officials in New Brunswick reported in 2021 that 40 people were afflicted with an unexplained neurological condition. A year later, a provincial committee suggested these patients might have been misdiagnosed with other diseases.

In a leaked email disclosed to the Guardian, Prof Samuel Weiss, a neuroscientist with the Canadian federal agency responsible for medical research funding, expressed disappointment that the government had abruptly terminated efforts to uncover the illness. He described feeling optimistic initially but said the scientific inquiry was halted at the request of federal and provincial authorities in spring 2021.

Weiss did not specify the recipient of the email but concluded with a sincere apology for the inadequate response to the mystery illness, expressing regret for the affected individuals and their families.

Prof Weiss serves as the scientific director of the Institute of Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He is renowned in the field of neurogenesis, pivotal in the treatment of degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis.

The New Brunswick health department responded post-publication, denying obstruction of research and pledging to take further action as deemed necessary by health officials.

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