Inter-University Attraction Poles Phase VII P7/16 Network: An integrated approach towards understanding the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration

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An integrated approach towards understanding the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration

The complete project text is available as a pdf file for IAP P7/16 members.


This network aims at studying neurodegenerative disorders of the central nervous system (CNS), including Alzheimer disease (AD), frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), Parkinson disease (PD), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These debilitating illnesses put an enormous strain on our social system in Europe and elsewhere. Although the underlying aetiologies remain poorly understood, some common themes in these different diseases are becoming increasingly apparent, and close collaborations between research groups working in these fields could provide major advantages. All these diseases compromise the nervous system, are characterized by a later age of onset, present with neuronal dysfunction and death and many of them are characterized by biochemical and cellular abnormalities, such as abnormal intracellular accumulation of aggregated proteins or peptides. From a mechanistic point of view, neuronal function is jeopardized by disturbances of axonal transport, mitochondrial dysfunction, neurotransmission deficiencies or increased vulnerability to cellular stress resulting in apoptosis. Most forms of neurodegenerative disease are caused by the complex interplay between genes and environment, but many are purely genetic in nature. The study of the latter has turned out to be extremely fruitful over the years, providing important clues towards the molecular mechanisms underlying both familial and sporadic forms of these diseases. Finally, it is extremely important to translate these novel insights into therapies because at present, no effective treatment is available for patients. The proposed network project is meant to apply the information provided by the sequencing of the human genome to advance our understanding and to provide new avenues for treatments of these devastating diseases. The proposed network project will integrate groups with expertise in clinical research, human genetics and genomics, pathology, biomarkers, cell biology, proteomics, bioinformatics, structural biology and model organisms (mice, zebrafish, and Drosophila).

General Aim

We aim to establish an integrated network to identify genes and proteins involved in neurodegenerative disorders, determine their biological functions, establish their role in the pathophysiological processes, identify modifiers of the function by genetic screens, The network meets the prerequisites for such a project: frontline research in functional genomics related to human health, creating synergies with and between research efforts, teaming up with clinical groups through translational research for providing novel avenues for diagnosis, prevention, treatment and providing training and mobility to improve the skills of our young researchers.