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Neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease - mechanisms, consequences and therapy

Final Activity Report Summary - NEURAD (Neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease - mechanisms, consequences and therapy)

Alzheimer's disease (AD) research is one of the most competitive fields in neuroscience. Surprisingly, despite the fact that important molecular players involved in the pathology of AD are well known and investigated, therapeutic improvements are lacking. The numbers of AD patients are expected to increase dramatically within the near future with drastic socio-economical consequences. In the past few years, however, several promising novel approaches have been described. The neuropathology of AD is characterised by aggregates of extracellular beta-amyloid, the formation of neurofibrillary tangles, neuronal and synaptic dysfunction and loss of neurons and synapses. One of the most challenging aspects of the elucidation of AD pathogenesis is unravelling putative associations and causative links between these AD hallmarks.

In 2006, the European Commission funded a consortium of AD scientists from European universities and pharmaceutical companies, who subsequently implemented a Marie Curie Early Stage Training site named 'Neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease - mechanisms, consequences and therapy' (NEURAD - acronym for 'neuron' and 'AD' see online). The common theme of the consortium was to study the early pathological mechanisms of AD and the consequences for the physiology of neuronal networks and for deficits in memory, with the implementation and verification of novel therapeutic approaches for AD being one of its main targets. As part of the training program for the NEURAD early stage researchers several symposia, workshops and summer schools were organised. All NEURAD activities were well attended and an active network of academic groups and private companies has been formed with joint PhD student training activities. Within NEURAD several important findings were published some of them patented. For example one new target for AD has been identified, which has fuelled several projects and collaborations.