Characterisation of neuronal endogenous retrovirus in Dementia


Neurodegenerative diseases encompass a wide range of fatal conditions characterised by the degeneration of neurons prior to their death in the human brain. Alzheimers disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia followed by Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) in people under 65 years. Neurodegeneration affects over 7 million people in Europe and it is expected to increase as the population ages. Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) are silently present in eukaryotic genome and represent around 8% of the human genome. Recently, an increase in HERV copies and activity have been found in patients and in neurons from neurodegenerative model organisms, including AD and FTD. However, the reactivation mechanisms and their implication in the pathogenesis are yet to be determined. Neuronal Endogenous Retrovirus in Dementia (NERD) is an interdisciplinary project that will analyse different tissues from two types of dementia, sporadic and genetic forms of AD and FTD. The aim is to identify and characterise the biological mechanisms underneath HERV activation in disease and its impact in neuronal cell death. Overall, NERD will provide a new approach for the understanding of pathological mechanisms driving neurodegeneration and it is expected to have a real impact by generating new biomarkers and therapeutic targets.