Fraunhofer IZI researchers in Nice to discuss perspectives in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases

The "12th International Conference on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases and Related Neurological Disorders" (AD/PDTM 2015) – the largest conference on the topic of Alzheimer's disease in Europe – is being held in Nice, France, from March 18 – 22, 2015. Members of staff from the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI will attend the conference and present their latest findings from the area of protein research.

Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disease, characterized in particular by the drastic reduction of cognitive ability. This loss is traced back to the increased deposit of abnormally folded proteins (amyloid beta) in the brain, which impairs nerve cell function.

Around 60 percent of the 1.3 million people suffering from dementia in Germany are also linked to Alzheimer's disease. The disease primarily affects older people: the risk of developing the disease greatly increases from the age of 65. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease. The treatment options available for relieving symptoms and slowing down the progression of the disease are also extremely limited at present. This is why a great deal of intensive research is being conducted around the globe into causes of the disease and new therapies. The Department of Drug Design and Target Validation, which forms part of the Fraunhofer IZI and was set up in Halle in 2013, is also involved in developing new therapy strategies for treating Alzheimer's disease.

Dr. Holger Cynis and Dr. Stephan Schilling will present their findings in two talks, where the focus will be on enzymes (proteases) which are believed to break down or inhibit damaging protein deposits in the brain. The session is organized and overseen by Professor Hans-Ulrich Demuth, Head of Department. Furthermore, Dr. Stephan Schilling will discuss the challenges facing the pre-clinical development of new drugs in a new podium discussion format. The colleagues will also present five posters outlining additional, new findings during the conference together with colleagues from the Helmholtz Association based in Dusseldorf, the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology in Magdeburg and Harvard Medical School, Boston.