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Medical Research and Nanotechnologies Allied to Combat Alzheimer’s Disease

The NAD (Nanoparticles for therapy and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease) Project is aiming to develop nanoparticles for Alzheimer's diagnosis and therapy.  The research is financed by the European Union's 7th Framework Program and includes 19 European research centers. Grant agreement no: CP-IP 212043-2 NAD. Prof. Masserini of University of Milano-Bicocca is the scientific coordinator of the project.

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 blood-brain barrier to reach the brain, principal site of Alzheimer's disease. Molecules that can recognize (diagnosis) and destroy (therapy) the amyloid deposits, characteristic of the illness, will be attached to the nanoparticles, and tested on animal models of the disease (transgenic mice). If the expectations of the research are attained, future experiments can be performed on humans.  The results can have an enormous impact on the early diagnosis and therapy of a disease of high incidence, which takes a heavy social cost.