Barcelonaβeta Brain Research Center (BBRC) Alzheimer’s Prevention Program is fully dedicated to research on Alzheimer’s prevention and healthy ageing from a clinical, cognitive, genetic, and biomarker, including wet and neuroimaging, perspective.
The research team
The program is led by Dr José Luis Molinuevo and is structured in two highly collaborative research groups: the Clinical, Biomarker and Risk Factors Research Group, led by Dr Molinuevo, and the Neuroimaging Research Group, headed by Dr Juan Domingo Gispert.
Both groups jointly create a multidisciplinary research team comprising experts in Alzheimer’s disease genetics, biomarkers, and cognition, as well as in the acquisition, analysis and processing of neuroimaging data (fMRI, MRI and PET).
Its researchers also participate in international working groups as the National Institute on Aging and Alzheimer's Association (NIA-AA) Diagnostic Criteria, the CSF Appropriate Use Criteria Workgroup, and the CIBER on Fragility and Healthy Ageing-CIBERFES.
Alzheimer's prevention on preclinical stage
The research carried out within the program is focused on early stages of the disease, such as the preclinical and prodromal ones. The preclinical stage is a silent asymptomatic period that starts years or even decades before clinical symptoms appear. Alzheimer’s disease has recently been defined as a pathobiological continuum whose clinical expression ranges from unimpaired cognition to severe dementia.
In the current research framework, Alzheimer’s disease is exclusively defined based on biomarkers that are proxies of the pathology, such as β-amyloid and Tau concentration in cerebrospinal fluid, and cerebral amyloid or tau deposition measured by positron emission tomography. In order to identify these early pathophysiological events and to develop primary and secondary prevention programs, BBRC launched the Alfa study in 2012.
The importance of the Alfa study
The Alfa study is a research infrastructure composed of 2,743 cognitively unimpaired participants, aged between 45 and 74 years, who have been thoroughly characterised from a sociodemographic, clinical, lifestyle and cognitive point of view.
The Alfa parent cohort is enriched in genetic factors for the disease and represents the whole spectrum of risk. A subset of the ALFA parent cohort participants are invited to take part in different sub-studies such as Alfa +, AlfaLife, EPAD, or AMYPAD. Some of them are also invited to participate in clinical trials of secondary prevention, as Generation I and Generation II from Novartis, or in primary prevention trials, such as the PENSA study which is co-directed by the IMIM and BBRC in Barcelona and granted by the Alzheimer’s Association, under the umbrella of the WW-FINGER study.
A new Research Unit in Dementia Prevention
In April of 2018, the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program presented the Barcelonaβeta Dementia Prevention Research Clinic. This new research infrastructure is directed towards people with Subjective Cognitive Decline, aiming to disclose individual’s risk estimates of dementia with a personalized approach and to present a personalized action plan, based on the individual’s risk profile, including but not limited to primary prevention advice and secondary prevention approach.
An in-house highly qualified operational team, composed of nurses, neurologists, psychologists and research coordinators, perform the data acquisition and storage within the research projects of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program.