Millennium bcp Foundation supports Alzheimer's research

The team led by Isabel Cardoso, principal researcher in the Molecular Neurobiology group, has just been awarded 37.5 thousand euros by the Millennium bcp Foundation to extend its work on Alzheimer's disease over the next 24 months. With this support, the researcher will study the influence and interaction in the brain of proteins that are the basis of the development of this disease and evaluate the effect of therapeutic compounds in these interactions.

The Millennium bcp Foundation, established in 1991, is a patron of several areas, namely Culture, Charity, and Science and Education. It is in the scope of the latter that the Foundation will support the Isabel Cardoso's project in the study of a neurodegenerative disease that affects the brain and is characterized by loss of memory and thinking capabilities, which the researcher says "currently affects about 47 million people".

This i3S team is dedicated to the study of a protein - Transthyretin (TTR) - linked to several neurodegenerative diseases. Isabel Cardoso explains that "TTR is present in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid and has a protective action in Alzheimer's disease". Alzheimer's disease results from the progressive deposition of a protein fragment, the Abeta peptide, which TTR is capable of capturing. Through a series of mechanisms, TTR can transport this peptide to the liver where it is naturally degraded and eliminated, preventing it from accumulating in the brain.

In patients with Alzheimer's the stability of TTR is decreased and this Abeta peptide cleansing function is compromised. According to Isabel Cardoso, "in the case of Alzheimer's disease there seems to be problems of stability in the TTR", but, she adds, "this team has already demonstrated that it is possible to stabilize the TTR with small chemical compounds that bind to it". The "small chemical compounds" the i3S team is exploring are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and some seem to improve memory and cognitive performance of the transgenic mice used as a model for the study of Alzheimer's disease.

However, the researcher adds, "much research is still needed to identify which compounds can stabilize TTR and, at the same time, increase their interaction with the Abeta peptide". For this reason the team will, with the support of the Millennium bcp Foundation, continue to study the factors that influence the stability of TTR and its ability to bind to the Abeta peptide, as well as to scrutinize which compounds may help in this task.