A Cypriot scientist at Imperial College in London is part of a team that may have found a breakthrough in treating Alzheimer’s disease with gene therapy.

Loukia Katsouris has been working in the Centre for Neuroinflammation and Neurodegeneration in the Division of Brain Sciences on a project funded by Alzheimer Research UK evaluating the role of PGC-1alpha in Alzheimer’s disease.

The recent findings of the study have been startling and could pave the way to finally treating Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease also known as just Alzheimer’s, is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gets worse over time.

Last year, there were approximately 48 million people worldwide with AD. At present, no treatments stop or reverse its progression, though some may temporarily improve symptoms.

The most recent finding at Imperial College has seen researchers prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease in mice by using a virus to deliver a specific gene into the brain.

“It took me days to come to terms with the significance of the finding from the study,” she told Phileleftheros.

“I feel a sense of pride and relief following the reaction from the international community and colleagues.”

The research team had been headed by Greek Professor Nicholas Mazarakis – co-author of the study from the Department of Medicine – and Dr Magdalena Sastre, senior author of the research from the Department of Medicine at Imperial.

Loukia studied Biology at the University of Athens and then continued her PhD studies in the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens (Apolipoprotein E in Alzheimer’s Disease).

Her main research interests include the molecular mechanisms of neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative diseases with a special focus on Alzheimer’s disease.

Gene therapy uses lentiviral vectors and pharmacological treatments for preventing aggravation of pathology and cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease mouse models.

The research was funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK and the European Research Council.

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