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Innovation Award for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease

Presented to Research Team from Freie Universität at BIOTECHNICA Trade Fair

№ 230/2007 from Oct 09, 2007

A research team headed by Professor Gerd Multhaup from Freie Universität Berlin has received the newly instituted Innovation Prize of the German BioRegions. The scientists were awarded for developing a new procedure that  enables the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages. The innovation prize was presented to the research team from Freie Universität today at the BIOTECHNICA international trade fair in Hannover.

One million people in Germany suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Each year an additional 100,000 persons are diagnosed with the disease. At the present time, it is only possible to diagnose Alzheimer's after symptoms of the disease have become apparent. By that time, the brain has already been severely damaged. The scientists Prof. Dr. Gerd Multhaup, Dr. Lisa Münter, and Dr. Markus Wenzel from the Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry of Freie Universität have developed a model that enables the diagnosis and thereby treatment of Alzheimer's long before the first symptoms appear. Using the procedures in their model, it is possible to trace the decomposition products of the toxic protein responsible for the destruction of neural connections. This method will make it possible to diagnose the disease on the basis of a blood sample.

So far the model has been tested using cell cultures. "It will take five to seven years before it can be used for diagnosis in humans," states Lisa Münter to lower any unrealistic expectations. The Berlin researchers have applied for a patent for their procedure. They also plan to launch a new company. "We are very pleased about the award," according to Professor Gerd Multhaup. "It was a major step that will facilitate our search for cooperation partners from industry for the next step in development."

The working group of BioRegions in Germany is composed of over 20 representatives from various regions that are active in the field of biotechnology and who promote biotechnology in their regions. The first Innovation Prize of the German BioRegions was granted equally to three innovative research groups in Germany. In addition to the Berlin researchers,  groups from the Hannover Medical School and the University Medical Center of Heidelberg also received the innovation prize.

Additional information may be obtained from:

Prof. Dr. Gerd Multhaup, Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry of Freie Universität, Tel.: 0171-7497556