Professor Martins has dedicated the last 33 years to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research and is highly regarded as a world leader in the field. His insight into this devastating disease has led to a number of groundbreaking discoveries including the seminal discovery of beta-amyloid and its precursor, the amyloid precursor protein (APP), found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients which is now universally acknowledged as being fundamental to the molecular pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. He identified oxidative stress in the Alzheimer brain which has been described as one of the landmark research discoveries in the history of the disease. Targeting beta amyloid and oxidative stress is now the central focus of clinical research into prevention and treatment, and a key target of the global pharmaceutical industry. Professor Martins and his team have been at the forefront globally in developing non-invasive and cost-effective early diagnostics for pre-clinical AD. They have progressed a cutting-edge program of biomarker candidates for AD-screening encompassing structural and functional neuroimaging, proteomic analysis of blood and cerebrospinal fluid, lipidomics and genomics. They are also progressing a highly innovative program of therapeutic strategies and preventative interventions in pre-clinical AD.
Role of hormones and diet for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease
Age is the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease(AD), a progressive neurodegenerative disease, which at present has no treatment. Given that ageing is associated with hormonal changes, several studies have investigated the neuroprotective effects of hormones on AD related pathogenic events such as oxidative stress, neuroplasticity, inflammation and apoptosis induced by amyloid-β (the key protein found in the AD hallmark, senile plaques). However, the underlying mechanisms behind the influence of hormones on the aforementioned biological responses are not completely understood and require further research to determine if hormonal therapy has the potential to reduce the risk of AD. Healthy lifestyle choices like adherence to a Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acid (ω3-FA) rich food sources have also been reported to be associated with lower risk to AD: we reported that adherence to a Mediterranean diet was higher in healthy controls compared to AD subjects within the AIBL Study of Ageing cohort. Given our current observations and those within the literature, we further aim to undertake a clinical trial to determine whether the combination of testosterone and the ω3-FA, docosahexaenoic acid, is synergistic in lowering toxic amyloid-β in the brain and thereby prevent the onset of AD.