The Foundation achieves its purpose
- by supporting research on the effects of behaviour and environment on human health
- by supporting scientific events related to its purpose, and
- by publishing the results obtained while pursuing its purpose.
Statute [177 KB] (in German)
According to the Board’s decision the age-related neurodegenerative diseases are our current research focus, and these are:
Alzheimer’s Disease accounts for 60% of the demented worldwide and is characterized by a decline of the cognitive capacity. With it, daily activities slow down, behaviour becomes odd and neuropsychological symptoms show. Already years before first signs of disease are detected so called plaques – made of misfolded peptides – assemble in the brain. Up to now we do not fully understand what causes this disease.
Frontotemporal Dementia occurs in the frontal lobe and the temporal lobe respectively. Here we find a progressing change in the personality and the social behaviour before memory is affected. This kind of dementia is not as common as Alzheimer’s disease, but more often we observe a familial incidence. The dementia is also called Morbus Pick according to its first describer.
Vascular Dementia is caused by pathological changes in the brain’s vessels. Risk factors are among others smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Contrary to Alzheimer’s disease we find more movement and sensory disorders or even paralysis. Apart from that the affected develop symptoms of dementia while their personality survives for quite a while. Up to 20% of all dementia types are caused by vascular impairments.
Parkinson’s Disease, also known as paralysis agitans, is a slowly progressing neurological disorder. Among others it is characterized by slowed motion, tremor, rigid muscles, swallowing problems, and hypersalivation. A few affected lose their cognitive function during the course of the disorder. In the final stage we observe an extreme immobility.
Multiple System Atrophy is a rapidly progressing neurodegenerative disorder affecting numerous systems. We find tremor, sudden falls, impaired swallowing and speech as well as problems with bladder control and erectile dysfunction. Within five years the disease leads to the loss of movement and generally after ten years to death. The cause is unknown and no specific risk factor has been identified.
MOTOR NEURON DISEASES
Amyothrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease of the voluntary motor nerves, yet the cause is unknown. We find a progressive and irreversible damage of the nerve cells responsible for the muscular movement. This leads to an increasing weakness of the muscles through paralysis and a progressive limitation of the activities with, among others, impaired swallowing, speech, and walking.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy is a disorder with muscle weakness caused by a progressive death of motor neurons in the spinal cord. It results in paralysis and denervation, a loss of the signal to contract. If the brain is affected we find among others impaired chewing, swallowing, and speech. The disease is a rather rare one.
Spinocerebellar Ataxia is a progressive degenerative disease with multiple types. Normally, first symptoms show already in the middle-aged. We find movement disorders, loss of orientation and declining perception. All this increases in the course of the disease and leads finally to dementia and death. Research in this area has been intensified in the last years, but currently there is no known cure.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is a rather rare, but fatal degenerative neurological disorder of the brain. It is associated with the build-up of abnormal prion proteins that initiate brain degeneration. Affected persons are confronted with a rapid and irreversible loss of their mental and motor functions. Symptoms are among others impaired memory and perception, personality changes, and confusion leading to dementia. Since a few years we know a new variation of this disease affecting younger ones, longer duration, and more psychiatric symptoms.