EU Launches Research Effort into Common Links in Neurodegenerative Diseases

EU Launches Research Effort into Common Links in Neurodegenerative Diseases

The European Union’s Joint Programme — Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) invites researchers in 20 countries to work together in conducting and analyzing projects into various neurodegenerative diseases, so that they might identify common links and underlying mechanisms.

Such “pathway ” analyses, the JPND said in a release, “could lead to a re-definition of clinical phenotypes and new approaches in the treatment” of diseases ranging from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to Alzheimer’s.

“With this call, some €23 million [about $25 million] will be made available to applicants to develop highly specialised cross-border projects that could lead to a better understanding of the biological underpinnings of neurodegenerative disease,” Philippe Amouyel, chair of JPND said in the release. “Our hope is that these developments will in turn lead to new, outside-the-box diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.”

Neurodegenerative diseases are marked by progressive degeneration and the death of nerve cells. This causes problems with movement, as seen in ALS, or with mental functioning as seen in Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

An urgent need exists for targeted investment to better understand the links between different neurodegenerative diseases, the JPND said. Recent evidence points to a clinical, genetic and biochemical connection between similar molecular pathways, and to these playing an important role in how different diseases behave.

This JPND call invites applications for collaborative, multinational and multidisciplinary projects, that will be used to perform network analyses across ALS and other often poorly understood neurodegenerative diseases.

The €23 million being made available comes from participating countries. Each country will fund its nationals with successful collaborative proposals, according to its budget allocation.

Participating countries are Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.

Pre-proposals must be submitted no later than midnight March 6, Central European Time, via electronic submission. This call follows a similar 2013 effort that involved 10 projects (results available here).

“JPND recognises that a critical step in the path to effective treatments or preventive strategies for neurodegenerative diseases is a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms of these diseases,” Amouyel said. “What recent research has made clear is that these conceptual advancements will require greater thinking across traditional clinical boundaries.”

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