GR@ACE - Genomic Research at Ace

The GR@ACE research project, the study on Alzheimer's with more genomic samples in Spain, is launched



  • Jaume Giró, general director of the "la Caixa" Banking Foundation; Víctor Grífols, president of Grifols, and Lluís Tárraga, general director of Fundació ACE present GR@ACE (Genome Research at Fundació ACE), the largest study in Spain of genomic research on Alzheimer's in terms of the number of patient samples, more than 4,000, which will allow to identify new genetic targets to treat this disease. 


  • The GR@ACE project will be carried out in three years and has the support of "la Caixa" Welfare Projects, which allocates 650,000 euros to it, and Grifols, with a contribution of 600,000 euros. The study is based on the application of high resolution genomic technologies for the identification of a new generation of genes that may bring data in the design of new treatments to deal with the disease. These data will be of great scientific and social value.


  • Every three seconds, a new case of dementia is diagnosed in the world, and a good part of all these cases will be Alzheimer's. It is estimated that in 2050 there will be 135 million people affected by this disease, becoming one of the most important health problems of the 21st century. Currently, in the Spain Alzheimer’s affects about 600,000 people, and it is estimated that in 2050 there will be 1.5 million affected.


  • So far, 99.6% of clinical trials of new drugs against Alzheimer's have failed. It is necessary, therefore, to find new ways to reverse the current high figures of this disease, which lead to consider Alzheimer’s as the first XXI century pandemic.

Barcelona, August 18, 2016. Jaume Giró, general director of the "la Caixa" Banking Foundation; Víctor Grífols, president of Grifols, and Lluís Tárraga, general director of Fundació ACE, present the GR@ACE project, the result of the alliance between the "la Caixa" Welfare Projects and Fundació ACE, which also has the collaboration of Grifols.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently published a report stating that the problem of dementia is a global public health priority. Alzheimer's is the most frequent dementia. It is a progressive disease that causes enormous family and social burdens.

Although researchers have been working for so long to find a solution, currently there is no effective treatment since clinical trials of new drugs have failed so far in 99.6%. The treatments of this disease based on the amyloid hypothesis have not brought much improvement, and therefore it is necessary to look for an alternative solution to face this social and health drama.

According to Jaume Giró: "The data is conclusive and we can not remain impassive. The daily life of many people is affected by Alzheimer's. And, as we know, we are not only talking about the people diagnosed, but also about their caregivers and their family environment. Therefore, our collaboration in projects like this reinforces our high commitment with people’s health and their well-being."

Dr. Mercè Boada, medical director at Fundació ACE, wanted to highlight the importance of this agreement and the fact that to invest in this disease: "Among the four most prevalent diseases -dementia, cancer as well as cardiac and vascular pathologies-, dementia has the highest cost and the fewest resources allocated. If research does not move forward, we will never be able to stop it".

Research is one of the priority lines of the new strategic plan of the "la Caixa" Banking Foundation, a key pillar for improving the health of people and an economic and social engine. Projects like GR@CE open new ways to detect and apply new treatments to patients, and to improve their lives as well as the well-being of their families.

Un proyecto prioritario de investigación basado en las tecnologías genómicas

The GR@CE project is part of a priority research line for Europe (Horizon 2020 program) and has a cross-cutting impact on the study of Alzheimer's, since its objectives are integrative bioinformatics, personalized medicine and the identification of new therapeutic targets.

One of the objectives of the study will be the selection of genetic targets for the treatment of Alzheimer’s by means of bioinformatic techniques of drug repositioning.

From a strictly clinical point of view, the impact of genomic technologies on diagnosis and the ability to predict it will be of great importance, since, due to its high heritability, it is expected that the genetic characterization of Alzheimer's patients will generate a change of diagnostic model in the future.

The different phases of the project

The GR@CE project will be carried out in three years. During the first phase, a complete genome scan will be carried out with the existing samples of the collection of Fundació ACE, the largest in Europe with more than 10,000 samples of blood collection. The state consortium DEGESCO (Dementia Genetics Spanish Consortium), created in 2012 and also promoted by Fundació ACE, will participate in the project contributing with an important part of the 12,000 genetic samples of patients that will be needed during the next phase.

DEGESCO is integrated by the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center, the Medical Research Center of the University of Navarra, the CIBERNED (Biomedical Network Research Center on Neurodegenerative Diseases), the Neurology Service of Marqués de Valdecilla University Hospital, La Paz Hospital, the Biodonostia Institute, the Institute of Biomedicine of Valencia, the Central University Hospital of Asturias, the Clinic Hospital of Barcelona, Sant Pau Hospital, the CIEN Foundation, the Lascaray Research Center of the University of the Basque Country and Fundació ACE.


The "la Caixa" Banking Foundation, committed to people

The "la Caixa" Banking Foundation consolidated its activity in 2015 with the aim of building a better and fairer society, giving opportunities to the people who need it the most. In the last year, and through its Welfare Projects, it has served 9.9 million beneficiaries who have participated in 46,209 initiatives.

A new commitment of Grifols with the research

Grifols has promoted this initiative within the framework of its global research strategy against Alzheimer's, from a diagnostic and therapeutic point of view, through the support and long-term collaboration with Fundació ACE, which will coordinate and manage the GR@CE project independently.

Fundació ACE, a pioneering model in the world of Alzheimer's

Fundació ACE, an innovative entity and a benchmark in Spain, was created in 1995 with the aim of meeting the growing demand in the treatment and education of people suffering from cognitive deterioration and dementia, especially Alzheimer's, offering personalized attention and comprehensive support to patients and their families. Fundació ACE is considered one of the international benchmarks in research, especially in clinical, neuropsychological, social and basic research.