Researchers Christiaan Levelt, Helmut Kessels and Wiesje van der Flier (VUMC) have been awarded a ZonMw TOP grant. They receive this grant for their project Synapses on high alert in Alzheimer’s disease. The project focuses on new mechanisms that are at the bottom of Alzheimer’s disease. The scientists receive a maximum of € 675,000 for this five-year research project.
Attention for synapses in Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by plaques in the brain that contain the protein beta-amyloid. In the early stages of the disease, beta-amyloid causes memory and concentration problems because it affects the synapses, the points of contact between nerve cells. The researchers discovered earlier that beta-amyloid only attacks a certain type of synapses: those that are activated during attention. Now they will use advanced research techniques to investigate where in neural circuits of the mouse visual cortex these synapses are located, what their function is and whether memory and concentration problems in Alzheimer’s disease are caused by their selective loss. This project will expose a novel mechanism in Alzheimer’s disease and result in novel diagnostic approaches. The researchers hope that the insights they gain from this project will benefit the development of more targeted therapies that protect synapses in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
The aim of TOP Grants is to create room for innovative research of excellent quality. ZonMw considers this open boost for science to be THE innovation engine for the long term.