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Medical Research Foundation: 'mini-brains' to help Alzheimer's disease research

The Foundation for Medical Research (FRM) has just selected eight research projects as part of its call for projects on the fundamental mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease. A financial contribution of a maximum of 600,000 euros has been allocated to finance the salaries, equipment and operating costs for each project for a period of 2 to 3 years. Among the funded projects, one project co-piloted by SEPIA (CEA-Jacob), Genoscope (CEA-Jacob) and ENS-Saclay, focuses on the use of cerebral organoids or 'mini-brains' as a model for the study of Alzheimer's disease.

Published on 30 March 2020

The FRM has decided to give a particular impetus to research on neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer's disease. These diseases affect a large number of people at different ages of life, and among them, Alzheimer's disease is the most common: 900,000 people currently suffer from it in France. But to date, no curative treatment has yet been found.

The call for projects was launched in 2019 to all French academic research laboratories and targeted two innovative areas:

  • the projects had to be multidisciplinary and demonstrate team integration, 
  • The proposed projects should focus on deciphering the fundamental mechanisms of the disease and address the molecular, cellular, translational and integrated aspects of the pathophysiology and progression of Alzheimer's and related diseases.

52 applications were deemed eligible, involving approximately 140 teams. At the end of the application selection procedure, eight research projects have just been selected, with a maximum allocation of €600,000 per project.  This financial contribution will make it possible to finance the costs of salaries, equipment and running costs for 2 or 3 years.

Among the projects selected, one project co-piloted by Jean-Philippe Deslys (SEPIA/CEA-Jacob), François Treussart (Laboratoire Lumière, Matière et Interfaces, ENS Paris-Saclay) and Marco Mendoza (SysFate/Genoscope/CEA-Jacob) uses an innovative approach: using cerebral organoids, a kind of "mini-brain", 3-dimensional cellular structures, to mimic human brains suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Using these organoids, the researchers aim to study the changes in brain function that precede or coincide with the aggregation and propagation of the proteins involved in the development of the disease. Their study, which combines genetic analysis and exploration of neuronal activity in space and at different stages of maturity, will make it possible to identify new fundamental mechanisms at the origin of Alzheimer's disease.

To find out more about the 'cerebral organoids' study model, find our online news:

"Mini-brains" for research on Alzheimer's disease

Combining genetic engineering and stem cells to obtain tailormade "mini-brains

More about FRM 

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