Prof. Michela Matteoli , head of the Neuroscience Program at the University of Hunimed Humanitas and Director of the Institute of Neurosciences of the CNR, is one of the speakers of TEDx CNR on Saturday the 8th October at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome. TEDx is the world renowned communications event, in line with the philosophy of the non-profit associations that promote them. TED was founded in 1984 in America and intends to bring attention to ideas that are worth sharing. These ideas and/or issues can be in any field, from art to science and have the potential to change the world. TEDx in Rome is the first event in Italy to involve a research institution, the CNR (National Research Council). The speakers who will be on stage on the day, are a list of experts and individuals carefully selected by the organizers. They will share with the audience ideas and new perspectives on the theme ” Beyond the known “, discussing the activities of CNR and science in the broader sense.
Alzheimer and prevention
“The prevention of diseases of the brain starts when its too late” is the title of Michela Matteoli’s morning talk about Alzheimer’s disease, the inflammation that can contribute to the onset of the disease and prevention strategies. “According to a World Health Organization’s prediction – said Matteoli – in 2050 one in three people will be suffering from Alzheimer’s. The extension in life expectancy is leading to an increase of aging-related diseases, including neurodegenerative ones”. Hence the urgency to address the issue, with a view to awareness and prevention: “I will discuss the latest scientific innovations and the role played by inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease – she continues -. In my lab we have been studying for years, the communication that is established between neurons and glial cells in the brain. Glial cells have a key role: some (astrocytes) modulate the formation and function of synapses and other (microglia) are activated as scavengers to eliminate potentially harmful residues when there is damage. Among the substances that activate microglia, there is the protein beta amyloid which forms senile plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Microglia activated by the protein beta amyloid, release cytokines. These are molecules that trigger a chronic inflammatory state, which seems to favor the onset of the disease. “The only possible prevention, at the time, is to change the way of life by engaging in physical and cognitive activity and following a proper nutritional diet. “This is also suggested in a study released by the American Alzheimer’s Association – said Matteoli – following a diet with, whole grains, broad-leafed vegetables, nuts and oily fish reduces by 50% the chances of occurrence of the disease.”
A search that began years ago
For years Prof. Matteoli deals with the study of synapses and inflammation that influence Alzheimer. She is the author of over 120 papers and has received several awards including the Mid Career Mentoring Award in 2013, a prize awarded by the journal Nature to those who have inspired a new generation of scientists, and the Athena Award in 2015 for scientific merit. In addition to the roles she holds at Humanitas and the CNR, Prof. Matteoli is a Professor of Pharmacology, a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization and the Academia Europaea, a part of the International Scientific Advisory Board of the Paris School of Neuroscience, the Center of Psychiatry and Neurosciences of the Paris-Descartes University, the scientific Committee of the Armenise-Harvard Foundation and the scientific Committee of the Fondazione Umberto Veronesi.
Prof. Michela Matteoli