According to the World Health Organization (WHO), neurological disorders, ranging from epilepsy to Alzheimer’s disease, affect up to one billion people worldwide. These neurological disorders affect people in all countries, irrespective of age, sex, education, or income. The impact of these conditions on healthcare systems across the globe is enormous, and with an aging population in many countries this burden is likely to increase. Patients do not only experience difficulties in the practicalities of life, but also in their emotional and psychological experiences.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia and increasing evidence has shown that neuroinflammation is an important and early hallmark of the pathogenesis. It has been suggested that tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a pro-inflammatory cytokine, might be detrimental in AD, though the results coming from clinical trials on anti-TNF inhibitors are inconclusive. Prof. Roosmarijn Vandenbroucke (VIB-UGent) reports in the authoritative journal EMBO Molecular Medicine that TNF, via activation of its receptor TNFR1, is the main inflammatory upstream mediator of the AD-associated changes at the choroid plexus and that targeting TNF/TNFR1 signaling has therapeutic potential.
To promote medical research in Belgium, the Baillet Latour Fund awards every year a Grant to help a young group leader to conduct a research project in a Belgian University or University Hospital. This year the Grant is awarded to Professor Roosmarijn Vandenbroucke (Ghent University) for her research project in the field of neurological diseases. Delivery of therapeutics into the brain to treat neurological diseases remains a major, unsolved challenge. The research of Professor Vandenbroucke aims at exploring a novel entry gate to deliver therapeutics into the brain.
Researchers at VIB and Ghent University have discovered an important mechanism of sepsis, an overreaction of the body’s immune system to an infection. In this condition, the brain is unable to curb an inflammatory response, causing organ failure or ‘septic shock’. This scenario is the most frequent cause of death in intensive care units. As it turns out, information about infections is passed to our brain via extracellular vesicles, small particles in brain fluid. These insights will be published in the leading scientific journal EMBO Molecular Medicine and might give rise to new strategies to treat sepsis and even other inflammatory conditions.