Thematic programme Alzheimer’s disease

Background and relevance

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a common disorder mainly affecting elderly people with a prevalence of approximately 5% and 20% of the population above 65 and 80 years of age, respectively. Thus AD is a huge medical problem with only palliative treatments with modest effects available. Since the population is aging and the cost of dementia care can amount as much as 400.000 SEK/patient/year in the late stages, this is an increasing financial problem for the healthcare system. This estimation excludes the care from close relatives, who often carry a heavy burden.

There are neither reliable diagnostic methods nor treatments for this disease. The only definite diagnostic tool is the post mortem autopsy to investigate the presence of tangles and plaques on brain tissues. The development of new molecular tools and imaging technologies in recent years are encouraging with regard to new ways to detect Alzheimer’s disease in early stages. The Center has expertise in proteomic tools and molecular medicine for development and evaluation of methods for protein analysis with the specificity and sensitivity required for detection of minute amount of relevant biomarkers in complex biological matrixes. Furthermore, the Center has knowledge and expertise in the biology of the Alzheimer’s disease as well as access to a broad range of clinical materials, including CSF, blood samples, tissues and cell lines. With such a strong platform it is not unrealistic that - in a long term perspective - reliable, easy-to-use, rapid and cost-effective diagnostic tools will be developed.

5-year objectives

In this thematic programme we aim to develop highly sensitive, specific and rapid diagnostic tools for early detection of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and prion diseases. Our ambitions are to develop diagnostic tools by which healthcare personnel will be given the opportunity to make rapid and reliable diagnoses by, for instance, taking a fingertip blood sample. Our powerful molecular techniques can, in addition, provide valuable tools in basic research to promote understanding of the biology behind these diseases. For early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease we plan to develop very rapid, sensitive and efficient diagnostic methods based on the proximity ligation assay. The aim here is to detect very small amount of soluble oligomers or aggregated amyloid-beta protein in body fluids such as blood or CSF. We are also planning to develop diagnostic tools for early detection of proin diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This will be achieved by development of specific tools targeting the oligomers and aggregated PrP proteins in body fluids.

Research projects

Development of methods for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

Project leader: Masood Kamali, Dept of Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University

Participants: Ulf Landegren (UU), Frida Ekholm Pettersson (AS) and Lars Lannfelt (AS)

Development methods for detection of prion diseases

Project leader: Masood Kamali, Dept of Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University

Participants: Ulf Landegren (UU) and Jean-Philippe Deslys (CEA, France)

Evaluate A protofibrils in CSF as a diagnostic marker for AD

Project leader: Frida Ekholm Pettersson, Dept of Public Health/Geriatrics, Akademiska Sjukhuset

Participants: Lars Lannfelt (AS) and Jonas Bergquist (UU)

Uppsala Berzelii Technology Centre for Neurodiagnostics | Email