Maria Giorgi Diogenes has always wanted to be a scientist because of her childhood. And today, the Pharmacy Examination Course, the Master's and Doctor's Degree, a university professor fills this dream. In fact, it has done so "a diploma since the second year" and is dedicated to Alzheimer's disease research. This study received last year Mantero Belard's neuroscience prize at Santa Casa da Misericórdia in Lisbon.
Researcher at the University of Lisbon's School of Molecular Medicine and a group of 16 people are investigating research aimed at repairing an "umbrella" that protects our brain against Alzheimer's disease. "The vast majority of people have focused on treating Alzheimer's disease in their efforts to improve the disease altogether," says Maria José Diogenes, but the medical team makes a difference.
"I even have the same orientation: we imagine someone walking and suddenly starting to rain heavily. Our brain with Alzheimer's disease is imagined that rain is brain protein and what happens to that person with an umbrella that has (we have many substances in our brain that protect us) , it does not work, so most people have tried to stop the rain, ie stop the build up of these proteins in the brain, which seems to be the cause of Alzheimer's disease, but few have looked at this umbrella that does not work. "
That is exactly what Maria José Diogenes looked at and there she succeeds: we are trying to understand why "the molecules we have in the body and protect us do not protect us". And to get to the stage where they already have a positive signal, a 10-year "very exhaustive" characterization of why this change is "in our protection system". With this work, it was possible to "know the mechanisms involved in destroying this protection", a neurotrophic factor that protects a lot, but that Alzheimer's disease is deficient.
Grab the illness that captures us from identity
From the moment that the team of Maria José Diogenes understood the mechanisms of the destruction of the neurotrophic factor began to act to prevent it. "We designed a targeted molecule exactly to avoid this disorder in the umbrella." When he had already done an "animal test" and managed to "demonstrate that this drug effectively protected the destruction of this umbrella", the team could also "restore some of the existing deficits".
Currently, researchers at this project, who have received a prize of 200,000 euros from the Santa Casa, are launching a series of trials on "animals with changes that mimic Alzheimer's diseaseof live these animals can return lost memory, "says a researcher who leads the project.
To this challenge is added another: a company to create a new biomarker – "a biomarker is one that helps us see how the disease develops." The event arrived there, realizing that the umbrella, when it leaves, forms fragments that go into body fluids, namely the cerebral spinal fluid. The challenge is to understand the quantification of these fragments, in which state the disease is, and this would be the desired biomarker, synthesizes the Professor of Medical Sciences at the University of Lisbon.
These are more than encouraging advances for an expert who has long been hoping for a positive result from the scientific struggle against Alzheimer's disease, a "terrible illness that takes our identity." "To think that someone losing their memory is a devastating thing," he summarizes, and this feeling led to a scientist's interest in combating this disease.
Despite the courageous progress, Maria Diogenes admits that although everything goes well, it is still a few years before the treatment can be available to the sick. "Before we go to human studies, we need to make sure that this molecule that we have is effective in animals." This project deals with this test already in animals of Alzheimer's disease and was intended for three years. they need more, I can not say how much, but ten or more years before I get tests on people, "the researcher says.
Always apply for funding
Maria José Diógenes does not hide the great help, which is the grant awarded by the Santa Casa Foundation through the Neuroscience Prize. Financing 200 thousand euros for three years will make this award a "mighty" opportunity. In addition to its existence, "at national level it really made Portuguese neuroscientists a special opportunity" because of its unprecedented nature and the annual periodicity. This year, prizes will be announced on November 28th.
The winner of the last year's publication acknowledges that fundraising is a major part of his work. "We have a number of concerns for researchers: on the one hand, we find the right question to look at quality work and asset collection on the one hand, because only funds can make science."
Maria José Diógenes does not see this need as an obstacle to work, but rather as an opportunity to do more. "We always look for grants, many projects, it's difficult, but it's so scientific, it's very competitive, but we're increasingly relying on international funds."
The researchers' life therefore looks for "normally two or three years", presents the right questions and find answers that often open the door to a new question, all to overcome the problems of society. In science it's right. But the good news is that when they arrive, the answers will always make a difference in time.