Jul 2020
“Excellent Innovation” in Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease by Prof. Dr. Yusuf Yağcı


Niemann-Pick Type C (NP-C) disease, known as “Childhood Alzheimer’s”, is known as a genetic disorder seen in 1 out of 100,000 people in the EU, according to research. The disease impairs the function of the protein, which regulates cholesterol traffic, ensures its recycling or reuse. This causes cholesterol to accumulate in the brain, liver and spleen. Accumulation of cholesterol causes brain damage and inevitably reduces cognitive skills and mobility. Typically diagnosed in childhood, NP-C is rapidly progressing to life-threatening levels in the second or third decade of life. The scientific world was looking for solutions for the treatment of the disease. At this point, an important contribution to the solution came from the NanoMop project coordinated by Prof. Dr. Yusuf Yağcı from ITU Faculty of Science and Letters, Department of Chemistry and carried out by Dr. Antonino Puglisi under the European Union Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Program. The project examines the potential of Cyclodestrins (CDs), which are naturally occurring sugars, in the treatment of the disease by drawing attention to their cholesterol removal capabilities. A synthetic method has been developed to create polymeric nanoparticles containing “β-Cyclodextrin” (β-CD) substance to create a remedy for infant or childhood Alzheimer's disease, especially because it creates cholesterol in the brain. ITU scientists have demonstrated that it is possible to solve the problem by embedding CDs in larger macromolecular structures with a published study titled “pH-responsive polymer nanoparticles as potential therapeutic tools for cholesterol-associated diseases”.


NanoMop Enters the Europe’s Innovation Radar

The research on the therapeutic effect of CDs by Prof. Dr. Yusuf Yağcı of ITU Faculty of Science and Letters, Department of Chemistry and Dr. Antonino Puglisi was selected as the “excellent innovation” by the EU Commission. As of 20 July 2020, projects supported by ITU and other institutions were included in the Innovation Radar of the European Research Association.

The discovery, whose biological applications are still being carried out by a group of experts in Oxford, the β-CD substance is separated from the polymer in a slightly acidic environment, it contains cholesterol with its ringed structure and allows it to be expelled. Usually the β-CD substance cannot overcome the brain barrier due to its molecular size and cannot be administered via blood. In the studies carried out at ITU, this substance has been bound to the polymer structure and can be turned into nanoparticles. Due to its small size, it can overcome this barrier and in a very slightly acidic environment, the β-CD can be separated from the nanoparticle and independently removed from the environment by taking cholesterol into its structure.

You can reach this research accepted by the European Union and published by the American Chemical Society in Biomacromolecules magazine in 2019 (BioMacromolecules, 2019, 20, 10, 4001-4007 via (link in detail is available on July 20).


About Yusuf Yağcı and Antonino Puglisi

Prof. Dr. Yusuf Yağcı is a professor of polymer chemistry at ITU. There are many national and international research projects that Prof. Dr. Yağcı is actively involved. Prof. Dr. Yağcı's working group has a strong infrastructure in complex polymer structures, nanomaterial and polymer characterization. Yağcı, who is an honorary member of the Turkish Chemical Society, a member of the Royal Society Fellow and a member of the American Chemical Society, was the principal member of the IUPAC (Polymer Department) between 2016 and 2020, and served as the chairman of the 46th IUPAC World Polymer Science Congress. Yağcı, with his outstanding reputation in the field of Polymer Chemistry in the world, has been awarded by TÜBİTAK Science Award, Elsevier Scopus Award, Mustafa Parlar Honor Award, Elginkan Foundation Technology Award, Japan Polymer Association International Science Award, Photopolymer Science and Technology Award - Best Article Award, Belgian Polymer Association. In addition, Yağcı was awarded the Humboldt Research Award in 2019, one of Germany’s prestigious science awards, by the Alexander von Humboldt (AvH) Foundation. The total number of citations that our academic has received in Google Scholar is H-index 81, i10-index 546, and the number of citations received is over 29500, H-index 52, 2015, i10-index 334 and number of citations received since 2015.

Antonino Puglisi, who received his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Catania, Italy, continued his postdoctoral studies at Greenwich and Sussex Universities. He then worked as an expert engineer at Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd. Puglisi came to Turkey in June 2017 and between April 2018 and April 2020, within the scope of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie European Community Project, which he won with Yusuf Yağcı, Puglisi completed his research at ITU on the development of polymers containing cyclodestrins with cholesterol removal capabilities.