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Live in the center | Alzheimer's disease
Every year, the foundation Vaincre Alzheimer lends its support to promising projects in the battle against Alzheimer's disease. Among the six chosen this year is that of Lucile Ben Haïm of the Neurodegenerative Diseases Laboratory (MIRCen/CEA-Jacob). Her project involves targeting astrocytes to treat depression symptoms associated with this progressive neurological disorder.
Every year, the foundation Vaincre Alzheimer lends its support to the most promising research projects in the battle against Alzheimer's disease. The Vaincre Alzheimer Scientific Committee chose six new projects in 2020 for financing starting in 2021.
The laureates had the opportunity to present their projects during the foundation's fifth awards ceremony, held entirely virtually on 8 February.
Among them was Lucile Ben Haïm, a postdoctoral researcher within the reactive astrocytes team at the Neurodegenerative Diseases Laboratory. She will benefit from a €40,000 pilot grant over two years.
The objective of her research project, which will focus on astrocytes (a type of glial (non-neuronal) cell), is to better understand the cellular mechanisms of the depression symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Indeed, patients with AD suffer very frequently from depression. However, depression symptoms in AD are poorly understood and often resistant to current antidepressants. Furthermore, little is known about the cellular mechanisms underlying these symptoms.
Within the brain, astrocytes play an essential role as partners for neurons and actively participate in cerebral function and plasticity. In AD, that partnership between astrocytes and neurons is altered. Currently, some benefits for cognitive symptoms (memory loss, learning deficits) can be obtained by targeting the former to reestablish their physiological interactions with the latter. However, the possibility of such beneficial effects on depression symptoms has never been studied directly. Lucile Ben Haïm will deploy a genetic tool enabling the reestablishment of the astrocyte/neuron partnership in a preclinical murine model of AD. She intends to:
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.