EU invests EUR 25 million for research into factors contributing to Alzheimer's

 

According to Professor Philippe Amouyel, Chair of the JPND Management Board, 'The incidence of Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's is exploding due to aging populations, which are creating huge social, economic and healthcare impacts across the world.'

As a result European Member States have targeted this area for investment in order to delay progression or prevent neurodegenerative disease and to improve the care provided for those living with this illness and to help their carers.'

Professor Amouyel adds, 'This investment is part of a series of annual JPND funding initiatives over the next three years, aimed at addressing priority areas identified in our European Research Strategy. This year's calls will see approximately EUR 25 million made available to applicants from over 20 countries.'

According to Professor Thomas Gasser, from the University of Tübingen and Chair of the JPND Scientific Advisory Board, 'These actions are an important step towards realising the ultimate goal of JPND - finding causes, developing cures, and identifying appropriate ways to care for those with neurodegenerative diseases.'

The following NDs are included for both calls: Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, Parkinson's disease (PD) and PD-related disorders, prion disease, motor neurone diseases, Huntington's disease, spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

The first call for proposals aims to attract international teams of researchers that will explore the different processes at work in normal ageing versus neurodegenerative ageing, and determine what role genetic and environmental factors can play in them. Factors such as family history, gender, stress levels, nutrition and others can affect an individual's risk, and provide protection from, or even resilience to, NDs. However, it is likely that a combination of factors are involved, so a critical step will be to establish the relationship between genetic, epigenetic, environmental and social factors, as well as their relative importance in order to identify those factors which can be changed or modified.

Modern research techniques have allowed researchers to create models of risk and protective factors. The aim of this call is to allow researchers to use these techniques and apply them to NDs. The ultimate aim will be to use the knowledge generated to develop strategies that can delay or even prevent these diseases.

For the second call, it is widely accepted that better integration and coordination of approaches to health and social care across Europe would help to reduce costs and improve the quality of care for patients with ND and thus also help their carers. In response to this, there needs to be an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of formal (e.g. hospitals) and informal (family- and home-based) care. It is believed that establishing what works best will create a firm foundation to support new initiatives that tackle inequality and inefficiency and build equal, fair and efficient health and social care systems for ND sufferers.

This call asks research teams to assess and compare the policies, strategies and interventions related to ND care, with regard to quality, access and cost effectiveness. Examples of areas to be evaluated include care pathways, psychosocial interventions and end-of-life strategies. The call will also seek proposals to improve various measures currently used to assess the impact of health and social care interventions on the quality of life of patients and their carers.

For more information, please visit:

Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND):  http://www.neurodegenerationresearch.eu/

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