The FINANCIAL — Researchers at the University are part of a new European project to test an innovative concept for the early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
The ArrestAD project has received €4M (£3.5M) from the European Commission as part of an initiative to support new research ideas emerging from blue skies research, oriented towards the future development of radically different technologies that can change society over the coming decades.
The new research is based on a recent discovery that demonstrates the central role of a particular type of sugar chain, heparan sulfate, as a catalyst of biochemical processes that cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Professor David Fernig, Dr Patrick Eyers and Dr Edwin Yates from the University’s Institute of Integrative Biology are all part of the research programme, and will contribute unique expertise in heparan sulfate, its chemistry and biosynthesis, with enzymology, chemical biology and proteomics.
They will develop inhibitors of the synthesis of the heparan sulfate sugar chain, which may in due course form the basis of drug development. In parallel, they will identify the protein partners of the heparan sulfate sugar in Alzheimer’s disease, which may lead to additional targets for early diagnosis.
The ArrestAD project is being funded through the Horizon 2020 FET-OPEN Novel Ideas for Radically New Technologies programme, an extremely competitive initiative that supported just 4% of the 544 proposals it received.
The programme is led by Professor Dulce Papy-Garcia of the Université Paris Est Créteil and brings together a Paris-based SME, ScreenCell, with academic research teams from the Assistance Publique Hôpiteaux de Paris, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Universidad de Salamanca, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Necki Institute of Experimental Biology, Warsaw, and the University of Liverpool.