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Down - Alzheimer - Sant Pau Barcelona

In collaboration with Fundació Catalana Síndrome de Down

Life expectancy of people with Down syndrome has exponentially increased in recent decades and currently exceeds 65 years. This great success has led to the emergence of new medical problems associated with aging in this population, especially Alzheimer’s disease. Down syndrome is considered a genetically determined form of Alzheimer’s disease due to the extra copy of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) gene, located on chromosome 21. Therefore, Alzheimer’s disease in adults with Down syndrome has become the primary medical concern for adults with Down syndrome.

Alzheimer-Down Unit - Sant Pau Memory Unit - Barcelona
FCSD. Foto Quim Roser

For this reason, the Fundació Catalana Síndrome de Down and the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau established a pioneering multidisciplinary unit in December 2014, the Alzheimer-Down unit, composed of specialists in neurology, neuropsychology, nursing, and social work. This unit is recognized by the Generalitat de Catalunya and is the reference unit in Catalonia for neurological pathology associated with Down syndrome. Its main objective is population screening for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease in this population.

In relation to this pioneering healthcare program, the Alzheimer-Down Unit is developing a research program, the “Down Alzheimer Barcelona Neuroimaging Initiative” (DABNI). It is an intensive biomarker study that includes magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, lumbar punctures, blood, and genetic analyses, as well as sleep studies using polysomnography. The goal of the DABNI project is to unravel the mechanisms leading to Alzheimer’s-type dementia in Down syndrome.