Bonn: Researchers Meet on Adult and Childhood Dementias

Bonn (Germany), December 5th, 2017. On December 11th and 12th about 40 internationally renowned scientists will be meeting in Bonn to learn about common underlying mechanisms between childhood and adult dementias with a focus on neuroinflammation and biomarkers. The conference is organized by the NCL Foundation and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE).

 

Bonn: Researchers Meet on Adult and Childhood Dementias

Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases affect elder adults. However, neurodegenerative diseases can also manifest at young age. More than 200 different conditions affecting cognitive functions in children are known. An example is “neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis” (NCL), which affects approximately 700 children in Germany and approximately 70,000 worldwide. “It is a devastating disease associated with seizures, loss of vision and cognitive decline,” says Dr. Frank Stehr, Executive of the Board of the NCL Foundation. “Most patients die before the age of 30. To date there is no cure”. 

Partnership for Finding Therapies

About a year ago, the DZNE and the NCL Foundation agreed to collaborate in their efforts against neurodegeneration. The Bonn symposium is one result of this initiative. The meeting is planned as one day of talks followed by focused small group discussions aimed at exchanging knowledge and identifying promising themes for new future research strategies.

“It is important to study the potentially common causes of childhood dementias and neurodegenerative diseases in adults. This may lead to new therapeutic approaches,” says Prof. Jutta Gärtner, a specialist in neuropaediatrics, who leads the children neurodegenerative disorders group at the DZNE’s Göttingen site. “Here, the DZNE’s expertise comes in, as we look at all aspects of neurodegeneration. This is relevant for all these diseases, from Alzheimer's, whose prevalence is still rising, to the very rare childhood neurodegenerative diseases.” 

Inflammation and biomarkers

During the past decade, considerable progress has been made in understanding the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative disorders. There is an increasing awareness that lysosomes play a pivotal role in neurodegenerative disorders including rare childhood onset disorders, such as NCL, but also in more common disease entities such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal dementia. The impact of neuroinflammation on the progression of neurodegeneration is another rapidly growing area of interest for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and also for childhood onset neurodegenerative disorders like X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy and Aicardi–Goutières syndrome. Effective treatments have only been forthcoming for very few of these disorders. New treatment strategies as well as robust diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for neurodegenerative disorders are urgently needed, and must derive from better understanding of the underlying disease mechanisms.

Contact
Dr. Marcus Neitzert
DZNE, Communications
+49 (0) 228 / 43302-267
marcus.neitzert(at)dzne.de

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