Alzheimer's Association awards a prestigious grant for the second time to a Sapienza research project
The project 'Unravelling a novel mechanism favouring brain insulin resistance development', coordinated by Professor Eugenio Barone of the A. Rossi Fanelli Department of Biochemical Sciences, has been selected and funded for the second time by the Alzheimer's Association.
As one of the world's leading associations in the fight against Alzheimer's and many other neurodegenerative diseases, the association has been committed to advancing research, improving care for patients and reducing the risk of dementia by promoting brain health for over 30 years.
The Sapienza project, which passed the evaluation steps with high marks, aims to analyse the temporal evolution of the molecular alterations in the brain's insulin signal during the development of Alzheimer's disease, with particular reference to mitochondrial alterations.
In recent years, thanks in part to research carried out in Eugenio Barone's laboratory, a strong association has been highlighted between alterations in the insulin signal and the energy deficit at the cell level caused by abnormal functioning of the mitochondria (the energy centre of our cells). When they occur in the brain, these alterations promote neurodegenerative diseases, first and foremost Alzheimer's disease. In addition to the classic and well-known functions of regulating glucose and lipid metabolism, insulin plays a fundamental role in regulating the biochemical processes underlying cognitive functions, including memory and learning.
"'For this reason,' says Professor Barone, 'defects in the response of neuronal cells to the effects of insulin, known as cerebral insulin resistance, appear to contribute considerably to the development of dementia that characterises Alzheimer's disease. However, the molecular mechanisms linking insulin resistance and mitochondrial alterations have not been sufficiently evaluated to date. Our project will aim to analyse a new molecular mechanism. We already have several preliminary data to clarify central aspects of the regulation of mitochondrial activity in the brain by insulin".
Alzheimer's disease is one of the major neurodegenerative diseases of adulthood characterised by memory defects that progressively lead to dementia. According to the Alzheimer's Association's latest report, some 47 million people worldwide suffer from the disease and the number is expected to reach 75 million by 2030 and 130 million by 2050 if no appropriate action is taken.
Department of Biochemical Sciences A. Rossi Fanelli