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The University of Barcelona (UB) has obtained funding from the Genoma España for proof of concept studies in animals, preclinical optimization, and marketing of a set of new compounds indicated for Alzheimer’s disease. The agreement is being managed by UB’s technology transfer center, the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation.

Alzheimer’s disease is the chief cause of dementia in senior citizens and currently affects more than 35 million people around the world, a figure which will only surge given our ever-increasing lifespan. There are presently no drugs capable of delaying or detaining the course of this disease; therefore, it remains one of the principal unmet medical needs.

The socioeconomic impact of this disease has augmented globally by roughly 20% in the past five years. In Spain alone, the expenses related to all forms of dementia in 2010 have been estimated at €14 billion. According to the World Alzheimer Report, global spending on dementia will surpass 1% of the world’s GDP, which translates to $604 billion.

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the gradual appearance in the brain of deposits, or plaques, consisting mainly of the peptide ? amyloid. Increased formation of this peptide, and its subsequent aggregation into oligomers and fibrils that deposit around neurons, leads to progressive neuronal degeneration, ultimately provoking the clinical symptoms of dementia.

The enzymes ?- g-secretase, which are implicated in the formation and aggregation of ? amyloid, are the main biological targets for various companies working on disease modification therapies for Alzheimer’s.

The research group of Dr. Diego Muñoz-Torrero at the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutic Chemistry at UB’s Faculty of Pharmacy has developed and patented a set of multipotent compounds whose combine pharmacologic profile includes inhibition of ?-secretase and of ?-amyloid aggregation. These molecules block the neurodegenerative cascade at various levels in the initial stages.

One of their compounds, which has shown greater in vitro activity than the reference drug, Donepezil, will be tested in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease to obtain preliminary data on its efficacy and safety.

Every year, the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation applies for 22 to 25 patents and creates two to five technology-based companies.

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