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The 24th Barcelona Biomed Conference brings together more than 160 world experts in Alzheimer

By 9 de July de 2014No Comments
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In blue, neuronal bodies and in green amyloid plaques. (Author: Alberto Serrano-Pozo, Massachusetts General Hospital).

The 24th Barcelona Biomed Conference brings together more than 160 world experts in Alzheimer

From today and until Friday 11 July, the conference 'Amyloid-β and Alzheimer's Disease: From Fundamental Principles to Therapeutic Strategies' is hosting 24 international speakers and around 160 participants who work in basic research, clinical practice and pharmaceutical companies. All their labs are devoted to studying amyloid-beta protein, the primary objective of the vast majority of research conducted into Alzheimer's disease worldwide. The conference is being held at the Institut d'Estudis Catalans, in Barcelona, which has hosted the Barcelona Biomed Conferences since 2006. The event opened today is the 24th in the Barcelona Biomed Conferences series.

AD is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that robs us of our most human qualities: memory, language, emotional control and the capacity to reason and take logical decisions. Today this disease affects 44 million people worldwide. According to data from the Spanish Society of Neurology, 600,000 people are affected by Alzheimer’s disease in Spain (about 112,000 in Catalonia according to data from the Generalitat de Catalunya); however, this disease affects the daily lives of 3.5 million people in this country, notably those who act as carers of those suffering from this dreadful condition.

At present, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) cannot be prevented, it is typically diagnosed only at an advances stage, and there is currently no drug on the market that can slow its progression. According to a study presented last Thursday, 99.6% of the clinical trials for AD have failed, thereby discouraging much of the pharmaceutical industry from further investment. However, scientists have made major advances in recent years about the origins of Alzheimer’s disease and are optimistic that further and more intensive research will enable rational therapeutic strategies to be developed.

“We are facing an epidemic that can be compared in its effect to the plagues that have affected mankind throughout history. As with previous plagues, we shall only overcome its devastating effects by discovering the agents responsible for its origins and progression. Investment in both fundamental and applied research is the only way to ensure that solutions are found. If investment is increased to levels comparable to that of cancer – at the present time funding for cancer research is ten times greater than that into Alzheimer´s disease – we are confident that the effects on the development of effective treatment will be dramatic,” say the scientists Christopher Dobson, from the University of Cambridge, and Natàlia Carulla, from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), co-organisers of the Barcelona Biomed Conference run by IRB Barcelona with the support of the BBVA Foundation.

In a press conference held today, accompanied by the neurologist and researcher Teresa Gómez-Isla, from the Massachusetts General Hospital, the three scientists have described the threat posed by AD and some of the most promising lines of current investigation. A common objective shared by the participants in this IRB Barcelona conference is to ensure that clinicians have access to reliable diagnostic tests that allow the early detection of AD, and that also facilitate the effective clinical trials of novel forms of therapeutic molecules that slow down and cure the disease.

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