Norwegian researchers move closer to a treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease

NCMM congratulates NCMM Associate Investigator and Board Member, Hilde Loge Nilsen, and colleague Evandro Fei Fang on their recent research which has found that the clearance of dysfunctional mitochondria slows down the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

photo of Hilde Nilsen

Professor Hilde Loge Nilsen. Photo: UiO

Research carried out by Evandro Fei Fang and Hilde Loge Nilsen at Oslo University Hospital and Akershus University Hospital, in collaboration with scientists in the USA, Denmark, UK, and Greece, has discovered that the inability to remove waste products, in particular damaged mitochondria, can cause the brain cells of animal models of Alzheimer´s Disease to die. This inability to remove waste products, and consequent cell death, was also seen in the cells of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. 

The researchers found that by treating the cells with certain natural substances that stimulate the clearance of dysfunctional mitochondria, for example with substances that have been isolated from pomegranate, they could slow down the development of Alzheimer´s Disease-like phenotypes, such as the formation of plaques and memory loss.

Personalised interventions to slow down disease progression may be possible in the future

The research suggests that in the future it may be possible to design interventions to adjust the biochemistry in the brain to slow down disease progression. Fang and Nilsen hope that in future there will be a blood test that can detect Alzheimer’s Disease much earlier so that interventions can be tailored to deliver personalised therapies that can counteract this catastrophic build-up of dysfunctional mitochondria. 

Clinical intervention studies now in progress

This work is now taken forward towards clinical intervention studies in Alzheimer´s Disease patients. This is led by Prof Vilhelm A Bohr at the Centre for Healthy Aging in Copenhagen. They expect to see results from the studies in five to ten years.  

The findings have been published in Nature Neuroscience: Mitophagy inhibits amyloid-βand tau pathology and reverses cognitive deficits in models of Alzheimer’s disease, Fang et al, Nature Neuroscience, February 2019,

Norwegian broadcaster and news outlet, NRK, has also covered the story: Norske forskere tror på Alzheimer-gjennombrudd (Norwegian only).


Published Feb. 14, 2019 9:35 AM - Last modified Feb. 19, 2019 11:15 AM