Selected Fields 2014

Present - Combatting Memory Loss


All forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, affect millions of people across the globe. This debilitating progressive brain disorder, leading to memory loss, disorientation, confusion and behavioral changes, poses great challenges for the research and clinical communities. It has become increasingly clear that dementia develops because of a complex series of events that take place in the brain over a long period of time including genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

Intense scientific research, mainly on Alzheimer’s disease, started over 100 years ago. These studies identified the three hallmarks of this disease, namely, amyloid plaques, neurofibrillary tangles (both composed of brain proteins with an altered structure) and loss of connections between cells in certain regions of the brain that are important in memory. This leads to diminished cell function and cell death.

Recent advances in the field include identification of genes that play an important role in the development of memory loss and the development of biomarkers that revolutionize the ability to detect early onset. There is great research emphasis on associations between cognitive decline and vascular and metabolic conditions. This will help to understand whether reducing risk factors for these conditions may help to combat memory loss.

Current medical treatments can help to lessen symptoms and temporarily improve quality of life in patients suffering from memory loss, but there is yet no treatment to eliminate or neutralize underlying causes. New drugs under development are focusing on the actual modification of the disease process with the aim of slowing or stopping it.

The 2014 Dan David Prize for the Present Time Dimension in the field of Combatting Memory Loss will be awarded to an outstanding individual who has made a significant contribution to the understanding of memory loss and continues to pioneer the way forward to finding a solution.