An ambitious project was recently launched that will analyse and quantify the effects of a balanced diet, an educational programme and an exercise programme on the functional capacity and the quality of life of diabetic adults of over 65 years of age in Latin America. The agreements to carry out this exciting project were signed by the European Commission and a consortium comprising the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), hospitals, universities, research centres and NGO’s from three European countries (Spain, Italy and The United Kingdom) and five Latin American countries (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru). The project will be led by the CIBER research group comprising four CIBERFES groups, one of which is the G21 whose principal investigator is Dr Jose Vina of the UV-INCLIVA.
Frailty is a state of extreme vulnerability to stressors that expose the individual to a greater risk of health-related negative outcomes. Cognitive frailty is a geriatric concept that is defined as the presence of cognitive deficits in physically frail elderly people without full-blown dementia. This subtype of frailty could represent a prodromal phase of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). This is a suitable aim for early intervention. Finding early biomarkers of neurodegenerative diseases is now of vital importance to the scientific community.
In this project we consider the use of a set of peripheral blood biomarkers (RCAN1, clusterin, RAGE and PKR), validated for the diagnosis of AD with clinical manifestations, as an effective method to diagnose cognitive frailty as well. Therefore, it would be possible to identify early phases of the disease, which are susceptible to beneficial interventions.
Hence we propose an intervention with genistein in order to delay AD progression. Several studies in transgenic animal models of AD carried out by our research group have demonstrated that genistein induces the clearance of beta-amyloid levels in the brain. Moreover, transgenic animals improved different behaviour parameters related to memory and learning. In addition, olfactory ability ameliorates after a week of oral treatment with genistein. Furthermore, countries with a high dietary intake of soybean rich in genistein, such as Japan, show a lower incidence of AD than the USA or the EU.
To sum up, we will determine peripheral blood biomarkers and analyse the beneficial effect of genistein administration for the early diagnosis and treatment of cognitive frailty and AD.
This project is part of the programme “Frailty and cognitive decline in the elderly” a novel and innovative project that studies the association between frailty and cognitive decline during ageing. This project is complementary to the “Proyecto Vallecas”, a longitudinal population study in elderly volunteers that started in 2011 in the “Centro Alzheimer Fundación Reina Sofía”.
ADVANTAGE is a joint action concerned with the prevention of frailty in the European Union. Prof José Viña is the co-leader of work package 1 of ADVANTAGE which aims to implement common strategies in health and social systems to provide healthcare that will address frailty within a common framework.