Universiteit Leiden

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New project funded to study Alzheimer's disease

Researchers from Leiden University will develop a new approach to study the biomarkers of Alzeimer’s disease. This approach focusses on the molecular messengers of the cells. The project, led by Thomas Hankemeier and coordinated by Yuliya Shakalisava (Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research, LACDR), received a funding of 800.000 euros from EuroNanoMed.

Messengers from the brain

The project is called EXIT, with stands for EXosomes Isolation Tool. It will develop a novel analytical device to investigate the molecular messengers from the brain (exosomes) in samples from patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Exosomes are nanosized membranous vesicles which recently appeared to play an important role in the remote communication between cells. Furthermore, it was found exosomes are able to pass the blood-brain barrier. Exosomes carry various proteins, RNA and metabolites and are present in all body fluids. This makes them a promising resource for diagnostic and etiologic research.

Novel device

Together with SINTEF AS, a Norwegian nanotechnology research institute, the researchers of LACDR will develop a novel nanofluidic concentration device. This device will allow to concentrate and separate exosomes from blood and cerebrospinal fluid.  Exosome research is a new and very rapidly developing area. Industrial partner HansaBioMed (Estonia) will bring in its invaluable expertise about this area to the project. Finally, an analytical platform will be set up with the two medical partners: Erasmus MC (the Netherlands) and Fundació ACE (Spain). This platform will be used to analyse samples of blood and cerebrospinal fluid investigate the metabolic, proteomic, immunological and transcriptional changes in the body caused by Alzheimer’s disease.


EuroNanoMed is a platform for funding agencies and ministries that are engaged with the application of nanotechnology to medicine and healthcare. Here national and regional funding programmes can join together with the goal of creating and funding collaborative research and innovation projects that convert research in nanotechnology into practical gains in medicine. EuroNanoMed supports multidisciplinary and translational research and innovation projects that cover: regenerative medicine, diagnostics and targeted delivery systems.


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