In this project, the Cardiovascular Pharmacology group is concerned with finding, analysing and understanding malignant changes in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease. A declared goal of the research is to find suitable biomarkers for this neurodegenerative disease and to prepare these for transfer into the clinical routine. This should allow Alzheimer's to be recognised and effectively treated at an early stage.
The central hypothesis in this discipline is that extracellular vesicles (EV) in the blood are connected with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. The vesicles are formed by blood platelets which carry the large majority of amyloid-beta peptides in the blood; this molecule is known to accumulate in large quantities in the brains of Alzheimer patients, and these accumulations are regarded as a typical symptom of the disease.
The researchers in the Cardiovascular Pharmacology group suspect that a certain type of blood platelet EV contains large quantities of some substances (which like amyloid beta-peptides are connected with Alzheimer's) and therefore has neurotoxic properties. This means that this type of blood platelet EV could play a key role in the genesis of the disease. The group has already been able demonstrate differences in the composition and function of the EVs in Alzheimer patients and in healthy people. It is now working on the characterisation of these vesicles by means of mass spectrometry and label-free quantification. The type of identified vesicles that are classified as neurotoxic firstly gives pointers to the risk of Alzheimer's, and secondly could be removed from the blood and thus form the basis for a completely new, preventive therapy for Alzheimer's disease.