A personal donation by Paquita Ràfales Majós to IRBLleida enables a research project on Alzheimer's disease to be initiated

It also helps with the recruitment of trainee researcher Leila Romero El Khayat for her doctoral thesis

A donation of 15,000 euros from Paquita Ràfales Majós to the Institute for Research in Biomedicine of Lleida (IRBLleida) has allowed a research project on Alzheimer's disease to be initiated, led by the principal investigator of the Clinical Neurosciences group at IRBLleida and head of the Cognitive Disorders Unit at the University Hospital of Santa Maria, Gerard Piñol, and the head of the Immunology and Metabolism Research Group (GRIM) at IRBLleida and professor at the UdL, Joan Verdaguer. In addition, the grant will also allow for the hiring of Leila Romero El Khayat, a researcher in training who is doing her doctoral thesis in Lleida.

"Everyone's collaboration in research is very important, because thanks to it we are making progress in everyone's health" explained Paquita Ràfales. For his part, the researcher Gerard Piñol pointed out that "economic contributions such as that made by Mrs. Paquita Ràfales are key to being able to develop highly innovative projects aimed at researching diseases with such an impact on health and society as Alzheimer's disease".

Alzheimer's disease is the main cause of dementia and the second cause of disability in our country in the population over 65 years of age. Despite the improvement in the early diagnosis of the disease in the last decade, there are no medications that allow its progression to be delayed. The current situation of the pandemic has highlighted the difficulties of these patients when they cannot carry out their routines or stimulation activities individually or in groups, since there is scientific evidence of the benefits of treatments such as cognitive stimulation or physical activity.

"There are different models that have tried to treat Alzheimer's disease by eliminating the abnormal substances that accumulate in patients' brains, such as amyloid protein and tau protein, without any clear improvement being observed in the different clinical studies carried out to date", stated Dr. Piñol. This project aims to develop a completely different model based on the knowledge obtained in pre-clinical studies on cell death induced by the same immune system in tumour models in mice.

Based on this knowledge, a similar technique will be used to eliminate those neurons that contain the tau protein in the very early stages of the disease and which we know can transmit it to surrounding neurons and thus limit the progression of the disease.

In this sense, the aim is to characterise in cellular models the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in the expected therapeutic effect and to evaluate the response in transgenic mice to Alzheimer's disease, both at the level of elimination of toxic substances from the brains of the mice and in their behaviour.


IRBLleida belongs to the I-CERCA institution, which is organised according to a model of good governance and operation that ensures efficiency, management flexibility, the attraction and promotion of talent, strategic planning and the executive capacity of the research centres in Catalonia.

The head of Promotion at IRBLleida, with the researcher in training, Leila Romero El Khayat, Paquita Ràfales, and the researcher, Gerard Piñol