A new hope is arising to defeat Alzheimer Diseatesta1se, the major cause of dementia, now affecting 25 million worldwide and predicted to quadruple by the year 2050.
Basic research has elucidated the mechanisms underlying brain accumulation of beta-amyloid, the protein playing a major role in driving neurodegeneration.
It is now clear that amyloid accumulation starts years or even decades before clinical manifestation of dementia. Recently it has become possible to detect beta amyloid accumulation in the brain by Positron Emission Tomograpy (PET) and its altered concentration in the cerebrospinal fluid by lumbar puncture.
Using these new tools and investigating also brain metabolism by PET and neural connectivity by MRI, it is now possible to predict people at risk of dementia, before clinical appearance, when cognition is still normal or only a mild cognitive impairment has been assessed by detailed neuropsychological tests.
The great hope is to prevent the appearance of dementia, since clinical trials so far have demonstrated that it is maybe too late to start treatments with anti-amyloid drugs in demented patients, when neurones and synapses are lost.
New trials are ongoing in preclinical or prodromal patients, with drugs aiming to decrease the production of beta-amyloid or to remove it from the brain with antibodies; other strategies take account of epidemiological evidence on the protective role of healthy life styles, such as mediterranean diet and physical activity, to counteract mechanisms of vascular damage, oxidative stress and neuroinflammation associated to beta-amyloid toxicity. Cognitive, magnetic and electric brain stimulation trials are also ongoing and offer promising results.

All these mechanisms and perspectives will be fully explored during the International Symposium organized by the Milan Center for Neuroscience (NeuroMI), in collaboration with academic and research centers of the Milan area, with lectures from top international experts in these fields.

For information and registration: www.neuromi2016.it