The multidisciplinary nature of the Sant Pau Memory Unit has favored the development of translational research lines that aim to bridge the gap between bench and clinic. Consequently, many of the results from these research lines have an immediate impact on clinical practice.
This research line is focused on the identification and characterization of new biological markers potentially useful in the diagnostic and prognostic evaluation of patients with Alzheimer’s disease or with other neurodegenerative diseases, such as frontotemporal dementia or Lewy body dementia. Biochemical markers can be measured in distinct biological fluids, like plasma, serum or cerebrospinal fluid, and their incorporation into the biomarker arsenal has improved the diagnosis of these patients and provided new insights into the relationship between distinct pathophysiological pathways in neurodegenerative diseases, both in clinical and preclinical stages. The Sant Pau Initiative on Neurodegeneration cohort (SPIN cohort) has been key to these biomarker studies. Moreover, potentially new synaptic markers in Alzheimer disease and in frontotemporal dementia are currently being studied through various funded projects.
Since the biomarkers translational research line was launched, the Sant Pau Memory Unit has become a key player in the field by leading numerous national and international projects.
Molecular basis of neurodegenerative diseases
The objective of this research line is to understand the initial changes that occur in neurodegenerative diseases through the study of brain tissue samples from patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Over the last few years the group has focused on the detailed study of synaptic damage in neurodegenerative diseases using biochemical or novel microscopy techniques. The use of new and sophisticated techniques, such as Array Tomography Microscopy, available in very few research centers world-wide, is favoring important advances in this research line. This combination of clinical research with innovative laboratory tools is one of the strengths of this multidisciplinary unit.