Interview with Jörg Kutter

Jörg Kutter works out of his office at the University of Copenhagen in a central part of Copenhagen. Jörg was the first Coordinator of the NaDiNe Project for DTU, but when he changed to a position as Professor and Head of Section at the University of Copenhagen he remained on the NaDiNe project as Scientific Coordinator. In both these roles and, simultaneously, as a researcher, Jörg has made invaluable contributions.

An exciting process

Looking back over the past five years, Jörg is satisfied with the results of the NaDiNe project:
- “We have reached most of our originally defined goals in these five years,” he stated at the Final Meeting in Bruxelles in September of 2015 and continued to elaborate: “There were, of course, some hurdles along the path, but we’ve come a long way. We have not wavered from our aim. We had to adjust a bit here and there, but not too much. We have learned a lot, both scientifically and in regards to administration of such a large project. We set up ambitious goals when we initiated the project five years ago, and although we have indeed achieved most of these, we have not managed to fully integrate the work into an automated device, despite the efforts put into this. We do now have a platform to work with, however, and this will further gain the partners in the coming years. Overall, the process and the added value of working together are also important and the concrete end goal is not always the only result.”

A follow-up to NeuroTAS

The idea of NaDiNe was born in 2009 as a logical step to follow another EU-financed project, NeuroTAS. Many partners from this previous project also went to work on NaDiNe and it was indeed an ambitious endeavor. At the outset, there were 15 partners in NaDiNe and this number grew to 17 in the end.
When originally presenting NaDiNe at the kick off meeting in Copenhagen in the fall of 2010, Jörg Kutter was adamant to stress that the objective of NaDiNe was not to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and related diseases, but to find ways to provide an early diagnosis.
- “We have an aging population so we will see more cases of Alzheimer’s in the future and if a person has visible symptoms, it is usually too late to do anything. We will look for molecules (biomarkers), which are linked specifically to the dementia diseases, and Alzheimer’s in particular. If we can furthermore differentiate between what kind of dementia a person suffers from, it will also be very valuable. Typically, it is not one but a range of molecules or biomarkers that we can work with and they have to be found at very low concentrations. Additionally, these biomarker molecules are not very accessible because they occur mainly in cerebral spinal fluid,” Jörg stated in his opening address.

Screening was the goal

Then he proceeded to give a concrete example: “If we want to screen everybody over the age of 55 every other year, you have to have a screening method that is almost pain free, easy to do, inexpensive and not dangerous to the patient. Taking a sample of spinal fluid does not meet any of these goals. It is painful, dangerous and expensive. However, we are confident we can perform this screening with blood. The concentrations of the indicators of the neurodegenerative diseases are very low in blood. This is why we try to exploit nanotechnological approaches to find these few molecules, catch them, enrich them and then detect them very sensitively. And making sure of arriving at the correct diagnosis is not least also very central to the patients and their relatives.”
23 FEBRUARY 2017