№ 323/2010 from Oct 26, 2010
Gerd Multhaup, professor of biochemistry at Freie Universität, is being awarded the 2010 Copper Award by the International Copper Association based in New York. He is receiving the award along with his colleague Thomas Bayer, a professor of molecular psychiatry at the University of Göttingen. The two scientists are being honored for their life’s work on the connection between copper and Alzheimer’s disease. The prize is worth 50,000 euros and will be shared equally. The award will be presented at this year’s University Copper Symposium of the German Copper Institute on November 10, 2010, at the World Cultural Heritage Site at the Völklingen Ironworks.
For almost 20 years Gerd Multhaup and Thomas Bayer have been investigating the role of copper in Alzheimer’s disease. Copper is an essential trace element present in all foods, especially in meat and grain products. It is vital to the human body. In their research Multhaup and Bayer turned their attention to the key molecule, amyloid precursor protein (APP) that plays a major role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. On the one hand APP is the precursor of disease-causing amyloid. On the other hand, APP binds copper and transports it on its way through the cell. Through numerous experiments, Multhaup and Bayer were able to ascertain that copper does not accelerate Alzheimer’s disease, but rather that, on the contrary, in Alzheimer’s patients, there is a copper deficiency.
The research findings of Multhaup and Bayer were the basis for a clinical study made of Alzheimer’s patients at the University of the Saarland in Homburg/Saar. In this study it was demonstrated that treating Alzheimer’s patients with copper has a hoped-for positive effect due to copper’s effect on the amount of amyloid in the body.
Multhaup’s and Bayer’s next studies are designed to identify the patients’ copper level in early stages of the disease and to ensure that copper is readily available in sufficient quantities in the body.
Prof. Dr. Gerd Multhaup, Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry
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