Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed according to international parameters. However, since there are elements relating to the history of the disease, its evolution and its neuropathological features that still elude expert opinion, it is obviously possible that this label is applied to diseases that, while all associated with cognitive damage, are actually different entities in terms of their clinical, biological and genetic characteristics. It is expected that the results of neuropathological studies and genetic investigations, combined with those of behavioural observations and neuropsychological analyses, will prove decisive in clarifying the clinical, biological and genetic factors contributing to Alzheimer’s disease.
Such studies, thanks to the way they are structured, will undoubtedly furnish key elements for advancing new pathogenetic hypotheses that might contribute to a better understanding of the disease and to the development of new therapeutic approaches. One of the tasks of the genetics laboratory is to develop an initial genetic screening assessment to uncover the genotype-phenotype relationships in dementia and in other ageing-related diseases, as well as in normal ageing.
The Foundation is therefore pursuing three lines of research, which it is developing in a synergistic fashion. These three research areas are all based, operationally, at the Foundation’s headquarters (each occupying one floor of the new building).
This research area focuses on diagnostic and therapeutic aspects. Its broad aim is to study the efficient and effective application of techniques and instruments already in use and also to contribute to the development of new methods of intervention.
The Institute’s neuropathological research is based on a brain bank project and a neuropathology laboratory project. This is a particularly complex research area which is therefore scheduled to be set up over a period of two-three years with different time frames envisaged for the development of the necessary equipment and expertise.
Genetic studies (a rapidly evolving field) play a key role in efforts to advance new pathogenetic hypotheses that might contribute to a better understanding of dementia and to the development of new therapeutic approaches.