Hospital del Mar Research Institute Hospital del Mar Research Institute

Physiology of cognition and Alzheimer's prevention Juan Domingo Gispert

Our group's main aim is to understand the biological processes that precede the onset of the dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease, to establish prevention programmes to halt, or at least delay, the onset of cognitive impairment and, ultimately, dementia, in asymptomatic people at risk of developing the disease. We are a group affiliated with BarcelonaBeta Brain Research Centre (BBRC), the research centre of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation.

Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of neurological disability in the elderly, resulting in an enormous social and financial burden to modern societies. Although the clinical-pathological characteristics of the disease were described more than a century ago, its exact aetiology remains unknown and, to date, all clinical trials evaluating disease-modifying drugs have failed.

Recent studies have demonstrated that Alzheimer's disease develops for decades before clinical symptoms appear; this silent, asymptomatic period is known as the pre-clinical phase of Alzheimer's disease. Detecting and understanding this pre-clinical stage generates opportunities for developing new therapeutic strategies. For this reason, it has been hypothesised that, to increase the chances of success, drugs that have failed in trials involving symptomatic patients should be tested in cognitively healthy individuals who have a high risk of developing the disease.

To design and execute prevention studies, people with a high risk of developing the disease in the near future must be identified, as these individuals are the optimal candidates to recruit while they are still asymptomatic. In this context, thanks to the support of "la Caixa", we have set up the umbrella cohort ALFA (ALzheimer and FAmily), currently made up of 2,743 people with no cognitive impairment, most of whom are the children of Alzheimer's sufferers.

The Alfa Study is the basis for establishing protocols and research studies, both observational and interventional, for participants at risk of cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's disease. Alfa participants are invited, according to their characteristics, willingness and availability, to take part in Alzheimer's prevention studies. In addition to the Alfa study and related sub-studies, we also investigate people with mild symptoms (subjective memory complaints and mild cognitive impairment).

Foto grup Fisiologia de la cognició i prevenció de l'Alzheimer

Photo:Physiology of cognition and Alzheimer's prevention research group. Font: BBRC


Group leader:
Juan Domingo Gispert(ELIMINAR)

93 326 31 67

Carrer Wellington 30
08003 Barcelona

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