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Posted: Sep 04, 2008

Nineteen European research centers launch nanotechnology project for Alzheimer's diagnosis and therapy

(Nanowerk News) On September 1, the NAD (Nanoparticles for therapy and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease) Project was launched. This is a multidisciplinary project with the goal of early diagnosis and effective treatment of Alzheimer's disease. The research, financed by the European Union's 7th Framework Program will have a total cost of 14.6 million euros of which 3.8 million will go to the University of Milano-Bicocca, the leader of the project. Massimo Masserini , professor of Biochemistry of the Faculty of Medicine, will coordinate the project. Three University of Milano-Bicocca departments will take part in the project: the Department of Experimental Medicine, the Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Technologies and the Department of Biotechnologies and Biosciences.
Recent statistics indicate that 24.3 million people worldwide are affected by dementia with 4.6 million new cases per year (one new case every 7 seconds). In Europe there are 5 million cases of dementia, 3 million of which are classified as Alzheimer's. Given the continuing increase in life expectancy, these numbers are expected to rise dramatically. In 2040 cases are expected to double in Western Europe and to triple in Eastern Europe. Despite great progress in the scientific field, which has made interpretation of the molecular bases of the disease possible, there has been little progress in diagnosis and therapy.
The goal of the study, developed in the field of nanotechnologies, is to create nanoparticles (NPs) able to cross the hematoencephalic barrier to reach the brain, principal site of Alzheimer's disease. Molecules that can recognize (diagnosis) and destroy (therapy) the amyloid plaque of the illness in transgenic mice will be attached to the nanoparticles. If the expectations of the research are attained, further experiments can be performed on humans. The results can have an enormous impact on the early diagnosis and cure of a disease of high incidence, which takes a heavy social toll.
Production and accumulation of beta-amyloid peptide (A?), a fragment of the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) plays a central role in the onset and development of Alzheimer Disease. Fragments of beta-amyloid aggregate to form oligomers, fibrils and plaques that induce a progressive degeneration of nerve cells. The three types of nanoparticles developed and used in the NAD Project: polymeric (PNP), solid-lipid (SLN) and liposomal (LIP), will detach and remove the excess beta-amyloid peptides from the brain and blood.
The NAD Project
The five-year nanotechnology research project will be carried out in the area of Nanomedicine an innovative research field that combines medical and technological knowledge. The goal of the research is to create nanometric (one billionth of a meter) particles for scientific use in the field of Alzheimer's disease. These nanoparticles possess a number of qualities that make them unique in the fields of diagnosis and therapy. These are: high biocompatibility, low immunogenicity, lack of toxicity, biodegradability, stability and ease of preparation. The NAD Project includes 19 research centers and small and mid-sized enterprises in multidisciplinary partnership from Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Slovakia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Hungary, Finland, Greece, Belgium and the UK.
The NAD Partners
University of Milano-Bicocca (Italy), University of Madrid (Spain), University of Copenhagen (Denmark), University of Paris-Sud XI (France), Slovak Academy of Sciences of Bratislava (Slovakia), Karolinska Institutet of Stockholm (Sweden), University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), BioTalentum Ltd. of Godollo (Hungary), University of Turku (Finland), Nanovector Srl of Turin (Italy), University of Patras (Greece), University of Antwerp (Belgium), University of Bilbao, (Spain), University of Lancaster, (UK), Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research of Milan (Italy), STAB VIDA Lda of Oeiras (Portugal), University of Paris Pierre and Marie Curie (France), GUERBERT SA of Villepinte (France), Bial Industrial Pharmaceutics of Bilbao (Spain).
Source: University of Milano-Bicocca
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