Every year on World Alzheimer's Day, the French organization: Fondation Recherche Alzheimer honors top European researchers who have made an important contribution to research into the disease. The prize for "most promising young researcher" is awarded this year to two young talents, including Renzo Mancuso: an Argentinian scientist affiliated to VIB and the universities of Leuven and Antwerp. Mancuso, who started his own research group this summer, focuses on inflammatory mechanisms in the brain and the important role of brain immune cells called microglia.
Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia, affecting more than 30 million people worldwide. As of yet, there is no medicine that can slow down or cure the disease.
According to Renzo Mancuso, researcher at VIB, KU Leuven and UAntwerp, inflammatory mechanisms in the brain play a central role in the disease process of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. He wants to understand exactly how a special type of brain cells, the microglia, contribute to the deterioration of brain tissue.
"Microglia are the resident immune cells of the central nervous system," says Mancuso. "While we are still learning more about their role in brain physiology every day, it is widely accepted that they play a crucial part when the brain is damaged by switching into an active state. We suspect that in case of degenerative brain disorders, they either fail to protect the brain or negatively contribute to the progression of the disease. My lab at VIB-UAntwerp will try to explore what microglia do in the brain of people affected by dementia, with the ultimate aim of developing new treatments."
Mancuso's team uses stem cells and humanized mouse models to better map the role of microglia in the disease processes of Alzheimer's and frontal lobe dementia.
Attention for Alzheimer's on World Alzheimer's Day
September 21st is a day for patients, carers and scientists to raise awareness about the needs and challenges of families confronted with Alzheimer’s, and the hope for new treatments in the future.
Mancuso is delighted to be honored with the 2020 Grand Prix for Young Investigator: “I am extraordinary honored to receive this prestigious distinction. It is a pleasure to know that our research is valued by the scientific community and it personally motivates me to stay on this path and do my best to keep contributing to tackle Alzheimer’s disease.”
Mancuso shares the award with Daniele Altomare, a young researcher who works at the University of Geneva.