Category Archives: JPND Press Releases

Research leaders and stakeholders from across Europe will gather today in Brussels for the launch of a European-wide strategy to coordinate and prioritize research aimed at tackling the enormous challenge of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

The EU Joint Programme in Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) is the first of the European Joint Programming initiatives which are designed to address the ‘grand challenges’ facing EU society in the coming years. These challenges are considered beyond the scope and resources of any one country to tackle.

Welcoming the JPND strategy, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: “I am delighted to welcome this common strategy, agreed under this unprecedented collaborative initiative in research, to channel participating countries’ scientific competencies, medical strengths and social approaches to tackle this important challenge. The JPND strategy can not only make research efforts more effective in the area of neurodegenerative diseases but can also have very wide benefits for society, health and the research community in Europe.”

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are debilitating and largely untreatable conditions that are strongly linked with age. Amongst these disorders, the dementias are responsible for the greatest burden of disease, with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders affecting over 7 million people in Europe, and this figure is expected to double every 20 years as the population ages. It currently costs approximately €130 billion per annum to care for people with dementia across Europe, highlighting age-related neurodegenerative disease as one of the leading medical and societal challenges faced by EU society.

The strategy sets out the common vision of the 25 European countries involved, and provides a strategic approach to support world-class research that can exploit emerging scientific opportunities, confront barriers to progress, and provide new approaches to prevention, intervention and care.

“This common Research Strategy will guide research activity and investments in the field of neurodegenerative diseases over the coming decade in Europe”, says Professor Philippe Amouyel, Chair of the JPND Management Board. “The ultimate goal is to undertake research that can be translated into new interventions that improve the health and wellbeing of patients with neurodegenerative diseases and their families and carers, and that delivers economic and societal benefit throughout the European Union”, he said.
 
The goals of the European-wide strategy are;

  • To develop new treatments and preventive strategies
  • To improve health and social care approaches
  • To raise awareness and de-stigmatise Alzheimer’s and other Neurodegenerative disorders
  • To alleviate the economic and social burden of these diseases

JPND is working to implement these goals through;

  • building capacity in excellent basic, clinical and healthcare/social research
  • coordinating and aligning European and national research activities
  • translating research evidence into clinical, social and public health practice
  • partnering with industry, patient, carer and health service stakeholders, and decision makers

The strategy is based on the recommendations of the JPND Scientific Advisory Board which constitutes fifteen of the very best scientists and physicians from the research areas related to neurodegenerative diseases. Extensive consultations with over 140 scientists and multiple stakeholder communities were also conducted and recommendations were validated through a broad public consultation. Research priorities identified in the strategy include investigating the origins of neurodegenerative disease; studying disease mechanisms and models; exploring disease definitions and diagnosis; developing therapies, preventive strategies and interventions; improving healthcare and social care. 

“The recommendations outlined address the full spectrum of research and approaches that are required to achieve impact, and recognise the important role that other stakeholder groups including research funding agencies, patient and carer organisations and industry representatives have in delivering this agenda” says Professor Thomas Gasser, Chair of the JPND Scientific Advisory Board.

Identified JPND priorities will be addressed within the next ten years through a range of long-term, medium-to-large-scale, programmatic initiatives.  In order to implement and deliver its strategy, JPND is recognising the importance of engagement and partnership with industry, patient and carer organisations, research funding agencies and the European Commission. Working Groups are already classifying priorities according to scale, impact, and agreed timelines, and it is expected that the first of the implementation initiatives will emerge during 2012.

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First Joint Programming funding initiative on use of biomarkers launched on May 13th, 2011.

Researchers working in the field of neurodegeneration research have a new opportunity to bring an unprecedented level of European coordination in their efforts to tackle major societal threats such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Speaking today in Istanbul, Turkey at the 8th Management Board meeting of the Joint Programming in Neurodegenerative Disease (JPND) initiative, Professor Philippe Amouyel, INSERM, and Chair of the JPND, launched ‘The first major activity under the JPND initiative – a joint transnational call to support the optimisation of appropriate biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases, and harmonisation of their use across Europe’.

Prof. Amouyel added ‘This collaboration will see over 14 million euro made available to researchers from 20 countries, where national agencies are contributing funding towards high quality research to address barriers to progress not readily funded through standard national research grants.’

‘This will be managed as one co-ordinated funding stream, with funding obtained from participating national agencies staying within borders for researchers in their respective countries, thus increasing coordination and reducing fragmentation’ he said.

According to Prof. Thomas Gasser, University of Tübingen and Chair of the JPND Scientific Advisory Board, ‘The availability of sensitive and specific biomarkers for the diagnosis and the monitoring of progression of neurodegenerative disorders, which are sufficiently robust to be used in large clinical trials is one of the greatest unmet needs in this field.’
 
Approaches to biomarker harmonisation for the following neurodegenerative diseases are included in the call:
• Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
• Parkinson’s disease and PD related disorders
• Prion disease
• Motor neurone diseases
• Huntington’s disease
• Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA)
• Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)

More information on the grant call practicalities is available athttps://www.neurodegenerationresearch.eu

Media enquiries should be directed to:

Derick Mitchelldmitchell@hrb.ie+353 1 2345103

Leading researchers from across Europe will gather today in Stockholm to develop a European-wide research strategy to tackle neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

This is the first of the new European Union (EU) Joint Programming initiatives which are designed to address what are called ‘grand challenges’ facing EU society in the coming years. These challenges are considered beyond the scope and resources of any one country to tackle. However, the EU hopes to maximise its potential to confront these common challenges from publicly funded research by bringing together the funding bodies, the researchers, the existing research evidence, and sharing tools, techniques and other resources amongst member states more efficiently.

Recently appointed European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn says:

‘This is the first example of the new Joint Programming approach by the EU to tackling the health-related, social, technological, and environmental "grand challenges" which face all of our citizens. Thanks to this Joint Programme, the best European medical researchers will be working together and pooling resources to help the millions of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other neurodenegerative diseases. By making research more efficient and avoiding duplication of work, the Joint Programme will increase the prospects of real progress in preventing and treating these diseases. The lessons learned from this Joint Programme will then be used to inform research efforts in other areas.’  

Neurodegenerative disease will be the first area to benefit from this new approach, with particular emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. Neurodegenerative diseases are strongly linked with age and Europe has a rapidly ageing population. Currently, 16% of the European population is over 65, and this figure is expected to reach 25% by 2030. In 2006, it was estimated that neurodegenerative diseases cost European health services approximately €72 billion to treat. Existing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases are limited, and mainly treat the symptoms, rather than addressing the cause. Alzheimer’s disease is particularly expensive to manage due to its insidious onset, its ever-increasing levels of disability and the length of time over which the condition extends itself.  The average duration of this disease is between 2 and 10 years, during which patients will require special care that is a significant burden for both caregivers and for society as a whole.

The ultimate goal of the Joint Programme on Neurodegenerative Disease (JPND) is to accelerate progress in understanding the causes of these debilitating conditions, leading to not only early diagnosis, and the development of new treatments and prevention, but also the provision of more effective medical and social care to improve the quality of life for patients and care givers.

To achieve this goal, 25 European countries, sharing a common vision, have voluntarily decided to work together in an unprecedented collaborative initiative in research which is seeking to align their scientific competencies, medical strengths and social approaches to tackle the challenge.

Professor Philippe Amouyel, the Chair of the JPND Management Board says:   ‘Success relies on the shared view that pooling knowledge, infrastructure, funding calls, as well as creating critical mass with coherent, multidisciplinary approaches, will deliver the best scientific objectives and answers. By doing this we will optimise research investment in neurodegenerative disease across Europe.’

The JPND will start by:

  • developing a strategic research agenda for neurodegenerative diseases encompassing basic, clinical and social research, and the latter also includes models of healthcare delivery.
  • implementing that agenda  by proposing innovative ways of pooling expertise and resources to address the fragmentation and duplication of current research efforts.

A Scientific Advisory Board comprising 15 of the top neurodegenerative disease scientists from Europe and elsewhere in the world has been formed to advise on the development of the Strategic Research Agenda and its implementation. This group begins its work today.

Professor Amouyel adds:

‘This is an exciting opportunity for Europe to take the lead in tackling one of the biggest socio-economic challenges we face into our future. To date, neurodegenerative diseases have not received the same level of funding as other areas such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, despite having a large negative impact on healthy life.  This programme will allow us to change that and get to grips with this issue in a timely and strategic manner. Today’s meeting in Stockholm will see fifteen of the leading researchers from Europe and elsewhere begin the process of mapping out a strategy to best achieve this pan-European co-ordinated research approach.’

List of the 25 participating countries (as of 26 April 2010)

Albania, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

Ends.

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Brian Cummins

Ph +353 1 2345000

bcummins@hrb.ie