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Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare
National Institute for Nuclear Physics

protti1The scholarship will be used for the development of a promising radiation therapy technique for Alzheimer's disease With innovative research on the application of radiation to the treatment of Alzheimer's, Nicoletta Protti, from the Pavia Section of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics, is one of five Italian scientists winners of the thirteenth edition of the "L'Oréal Italia for Women and Science" award, sponsored by L'Oréal in collaboration with the Italian National Commission for UNESCO. The names of the five winners, selected by the national jury chaired by Umberto Veronesi, were communicated this morning during the award ceremony, in the boardroom of the University of Milan, in the presence of the Mayor of Milan, Giuliano Pisapia. Winners of the L’Oréal Italia scholarship, in addition to Nicoletta Protti, are biologist Micol Belluzzi, biotechnologist Sarah D’Alessandro, medical researcher Maria Gnarra and naturalist Nadia Pieretti. The award will be used for the development of research projects in which the scientists are engaged, in concrete support of their scientific career. “I cannot find the words to describe my joy for this award”, was the comment of Nicoletta Protti. “I am sincerely grateful to the jury and to L'Oréal Italia for having trusted in me, providing me with the opportunity to study the potential of an innovative therapy for a debilitating disease with very high human and social impact, such as Alzheimer's disease, one of the most common forms of degenerative dementia. I truly hope to provide my personal contribution in this field.” Nicoletta Protti's research - “Preliminary feasibility studies of X-ray treatment for Alzheimer's disease based on neutron bombardment of neurotoxic amyloid aggregates" - falls within the scope of a broader programme of verification of innovative therapies for Alzheimer's disease. "It is believed that Alzheimer's is associated with the presence in the patient's brain of an accumulation of extracellular plaques, composed mainly of a toxic protein, the amyloid beta peptide, which in healthy subjects has the function of promoting cell growth", explained Nicoletta Protti. "Currently, unfortunately, there are no effective therapies to arrest the course of the disease, although some strategies have been proposed to limit its progression, slowing the process of formation or disintegrating the amyloid beta-aggregates in the brain." Nicoletta Protti's team has precisely the objective of evaluating the effectiveness of a radiation therapy technique for Alzheimer's disease, based on irradiation of the amyloid beta plaques with high ionization density radiation. “The experimental investigation”, pointed out Valerio Vercesi, Director of the INFN Pavia Section, “will be possible thanks to the availability of the LENA - Laboratory of Applied Nuclear Energy- research reactor at the University of Pavia, with which the INFN Section has intense and fruitful cooperation in various fields in place since many years”.