AD-protect: Functional and mechanistic characterization of a new gene protecting from Alzheimer’s disease

Stefan Lichtenthaler (Germany), Jean-Charles Lambert (France), Julien Chapuis (France)

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a deadly disorder of the brain. Currently, no treatment is available that effectively stops the disease or even prevents it. Genetic variations in several genes that increase or decrease the risk of getting AD help us to better understand AD and to develop new drugs. Recently, we performed a large genetic study and identified a gene, which – if mutated – protects from AD. At present, little is known about what the gene does in our body and how its mutation protects from AD. We do already know that the gene is present in large amounts in neurons or in the brain’s immune cells (so-called microglia). However, we do not know where the impact of this gene takes place, and consequently the pathophysiological processes impacted by this gene. Different functional and mechanistic scenarios - either in neurons or in microglia - will be tested in our international research project – termed AD-Protect – which combines the complementary expertise of research groups in France, Belgium and Germany. Using advanced research methods, including iPS cells, organoids and proteomics, our project will determine how the mutated gene protects from AD and whether it may be used for development of new AD-targeted drugs.