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The new Pasqual Maragall Foundation research center, located on the Pompeu Fabra University Ciutadella campus, has just been inaugurated and will house all of the foundation's scientific and research activity to prevent Alzheimer. It has been given the name BarcelonaBeta Research Center and is headed up by José Luis Molinuevo.

Unlike other centers, this one works with healthy people because, as Foundation Director Jordi Camí explains, “We will be able to prevent many people from suffering the effects of the disease before we can cure those who already have symptoms.”

The new headquarters of the foundation, which cost a total of €11.9 millions, has more than 4,200 square meters of facilities on six floors, including a clinical research unit for trials with preventative drugs, two small operating rooms and a neuroimaging platform with a magnetic resonance machine that gives doctors high-quality images of the brain.

Run directly by the Pasqual Maragall Foundation, the center was funded with 25% internal resources –private funds raised–, 25% ERDF funds managed by the Government of Catalonia and the remaining 50% in an interest-free loan from the Ministry of Health. The center began operations in March of this year and is currently using four floors for the Alpha Study and the Epad European project.

The Alfa Study is being conducted with nearly 2,700 volunteers between 45 and 75 years old, all children of people who have suffered from the disease. Experts want to identify biomarkers and risk factors to design strategies to prevent the disease, and to do so they will test the subjects throughout their life. The participants may also be involved in clinical trials. The center, for example, will soon host a phase III study coordinated by Novartis to test a seemingly promising vaccine.

Some volunteers from the Alfa Study are also participating in the European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia (EPAD), a project involving 6,000 volunteers and 36 research centers, universities, patients’ associations and laboratories around Europe that aims to test drugs that act on the earliest stage of the disease to prevent or curb the onset of symptoms. BarcelonaBeta is the only center from Spain participating.

Since it was first conceived in 2009, the BarcelonaBeta project has had to adjust to budgetary constraints and currently employs 53 workers. Initially, it was planned to have 30,000 square meters of space opposite the W Hotel in Barcelona and to open in 2012.

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