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Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases: infectious proteinopathies capture the attention of academicians

At a joint meeting of the French Academies of Medicine and Pharmacy held 19 November 2019, Ronald Melki of the Neurodegenerative Diseases Laboratory (MIRCen/CEA-Jacob) gave a descriptive review of experimental elements enabling a better understanding of infectious proteinopathy in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

That review, entitled "The infectious proteinopathies of Parkinson and Alzheimer," is available in the March 2020 edition of the Bulletin de l'Académie Nationale de Médecine.

Published on 5 July 2020

The purpose of the joint meeting of the academies was to take stock of risk factors, prevention strategies, diagnostics, and novel therapeutic hopes and approaches in Alzheimer's disease.

Age-related neurodegenerative pathologies such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases are characterized by the appearance of aggregates of proteins in the central nervous system. The composition and the distribution of the protein aggregates in the brain differ from one disease to another. The team headed by Ronald Melki demonstrated that once formed, the protein aggregates spread in the central nervous system in an infection-like manner. At the joint meeting, he discussed a range of points that enable a better experimental understanding of the proteinopathic nature of these diseases. The protein aggregates are deleterious from the start, as soon as they affix to the neuron. They grow and propagate from neuron to neuron by entering the cells via a particular mechanism and thereafter travelling along axons. 

Ronald Melki also detailed how the aggregation of a same protein in different configurations results in distinct neurodegenerative diseases and why different therapeutic approaches are needed to target the propagation of these variable pathological protein aggregates. 

Since 2019, the Bulletin of the National Academy of Medicine is edited in partnership with Elsevier-Masson. The Academy's complete reports are available on its website. Other texts can be obtained on the EM consulte website. (French links)

  • Consult the program (in French) of the joint meeting held 19 November 2019:

  • Introductory video (in French):

"Infectious hypothesis: Alois Alzheimer and other neurodegenerative diseases," by Ronald Melki

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