We are progressing in the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases

We work with scientific research projects to prevent neurodegenerative’s disease, delay their onset and improve people’s health and quality of life.

ALFA Study (Alzheimer and Families). Pasqual Maragall Foundation

Since 2008, this pioneering project has been focused on preparing a study aimed at early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. The ALFA (Alzheimer and Families) cognitive and genetic assessment study used over 2,700 healthy participants aged between 45 and 65 to gather information to help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Collaboration with Fundación Luzón for promoting research projects on ALS

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease, the most common of the rare diseases, which ends up swiftly paralysing anyone suffering from it and for which there is still not existing treatment.

In this context, RDI is a clear priority for improving knowledge on the disease’s aetiology and mechanisms and generating possible treatments to prevent it from developing or reversing its effects.

Fundación Luzón was created in order to improve the lives of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) patients and their families.

The collaboration agreement between Fundación Luzón and ”la Caixa” Foundation is part of the Call for Healthcare Research Projects from the ”la Caixa” Foundation, with a mutual commitment to finance at least one RDI project on ALS. This initiative is a clear commitment in the fight against ALS, the first in Spain.

As a result of the call for health research projects and within the framework of the agreement with Fundación Luzón, the following project is to be financed:

New treatment for halting the development of ALS. Researcher: Ruben López, Autonomous University of Barcelona

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS, is a neurodegenerative disease that causes muscular problems eventually leading to the person becoming immobile. Life expectancy from diagnosis is between three and five years and it affects some 450,000 people around the world.

Although we don´t know what causes this disease, neuroinflammation is one of the pathogenic mechanisms that contributes towards it occurring and developing. Until now, anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to be ineffective in treating symptoms and halting development.

Recent studies have described a family of lipids that actively promote tissue repair. Scientists have shown them to be effective in reducing inflammation in patients recovering from an injury to the spinal cord. They solved the huge challenges posed by the inflammation, reducing the secondary effects of the anti-inflammatory drugs.

The project will research the contribution that these lipids make in mice with ALS to find new treatments and see if they are more effective than those commonly used, such as riluzole. The aim is to halt the advance of this neurodegenerative disease and find new biomarkers that predict its development.

Project Gr@ACE, genomic research into Alzheimer’s disease

The ACE foundation will be carrying out the GR@ACE project over a three-year period (from 2016 to 2019) with the backing of the ”la Caixa” Foundation and the Grífols Foundation.

This the Alzheimer’s research project with the most genome samples (nearly 4,000) carried out so far in Spain. The study is based on the use of high-resolution genome technology to identify a new generation of genes to determine new therapeutic targets for treating this illness.

Identifying epigenetic biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Miguel Servet Foundation and the Navarrabiomed Biomedical Research Centre

The purpose of this project is to identify epigenetic biomarkers in peripheral blood from patients with Alzheimer’s disease to contribute to improving the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of the illness.

This project is aimed at patients in the initial stages of the illness and the population at risk of developing it. It is a transversal study of cases and controls, recruiting a group of seventy-five patients with the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and seventy-five control patients paired by age and gender. The aim of this is to create a non-invasive, accessible diagnostic test using a blood analysis, to help improve diagnosis and early detection of the disease.

DABNI (Down Alzheimer Barcelona Neuroimaging Initiative) Study. Santa Creu i Sant Pau Hospital Research Institute

The aim of this study is to identify biomarkers of cognitive deterioration and the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease in people with Down’s syndrome.

The increased life expectancy of people with Down’s syndrome, which is currently on average over sixty years, has led to the appearance of neurodegenerative diseases. Thus, 80% of people with Down’s syndrome aged over sixty display symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

1,000 volunteers with Down’s syndrome took part in this study, undergoing specific tests to assess the possibility of their developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Immune Tolerance Cell Therapy Project GAEM Foundation

The goal of the project is to develop an effective personalised therapy with less risk of side effects for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and neuromyelitis optica (NMO).

This therapy uses dendritic cells loaded with myelin peptides to regulate the auto-immune attack on the myelin. This stops the disease progressing and therefore prevents physical and mental deterioration in people suffering MS.

Project Sylvius. Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM)

The Hospital del Mar and its Medical Research Institute (IMIM), with the cooperation of the ”la Caixa” Foundation, are carrying out this innovative project which will make it possible to simultaneously record all the areas of the brain associated with basic functions.

This will make it possible to generate an atlas of all the areas related to language, minimise the risks involved in brain surgery and aid pre-operative planning.

Selective vulnerability to neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. Fundación HM Hospitales

The goal of this research project, directed by Dr. José A. Obeso, is to propose a therapeutic strategy aimed at stopping the neurodegenerative process in the initial phase of Parkinson’s disease, and find out the risk of excessively routine multi-tasking behaviour.

Thus, this study sets out to understand why Parkinson’s disease affects specific neurons, which might be involved in the process of learning routine behaviour.

In this way it could advance knowledge about this disease, which is the second most common neurodegenerative pathology after Alzheimer’s disease and affects about 1% of the Spanish population over 60 years old.

Research on the relationship between epilepsy and neuro-behavioural disorders - Sant Joan de Déu Hospital

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder affecting around 50 million people of all ages throughout the world, converting it into the most common neurological cause of death. Furthermore, 25-30% of patients are resistant to treatment.

The objective of the project, led by Dr Campistol, is to study the relationship between epilepsy and the appearance of emotional and neuro-behavioural de-regulation disorders in recently diagnosed patients. The most frequent are behaviour and personality disorders, aggressiveness, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, panic attacks, multiple personality, obsessive-compulsive disorder and ADHD.

It is intended to monitor the appearance of these disorders at the beginning, after nine months and after 18 months of study. In this manner, the intention is to demonstrate that through the use of standardised interviews in adequate time periods, it is possible to quickly detect these disorders and to offer treatment and advisory services to families.

iPS cells as a study tool and model to implement the CRISPR-Cas system in retinal dystrophies - Ocular Microsurgery Institute Foundation (IMO)

Retinal dystrophies (RD) are the leading cause of hereditary blindness in developed countries. They are characterised by the progressive degeneration of the photoreceptors and the pigmented epithelium cells of the retina. Their heterogeneity and the fact that no prevalent genes or mutations exist make it difficult to diagnose and treat the illness.

The objective of the project, led by Dr Borja Corcóstegui and Dr Esther Pomares, is to enhance knowledge of the retinal dystrophies to better understand the progression of the disease, using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) of each of the patients involved in the retinal dystrophy study. These cells will serve as a study model and in the future they could be the base of a possible universal therapy for these patients.