“A comparative study of peripheral nerve MRI and ultrasound in MMN and ALS” has been published in Muscle & Nerve. This research was supported in part by JPND through the STRENGTH project, selected for support in the 2012 risk factors call, and the SOPHIA project, selected for support in the 2011 biomarkers call.
Ten international JPND working groups recommended for funding
The EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) has released the results of a “rapid-action” call to support working groups of leading scientists to bring forward novel approaches that will enhance the use of brain imaging for neurodegenerative disease research.
Ten working groups have been recommended for funding to address the methodological challenges facing different imaging modalities, among them MRI, PET, ultrasound, MEG and EEG, as well as multimodal approaches. The working groups cover a range of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Frontotemporal dementia and Huntington’s disease.
“Brain imaging has made enormous progress in recent years and is currently one of the most promising avenues in neurodegenerative disease research,” said Professor Thomas Gasser, Chair of the JPND Scientific Advisory Board. “If we can solve the challenges in the field, brain imaging could rapidly lead to faster and better diagnoses as well as a deeper understanding of the fundamental aspects and mechanisms of neurodegeneration.”
Although imaging techniques have brought about a dramatic improvement in the understanding of neurodegenerative diseases, there remain a number of significant challenges in the field. These include the execution of multi-centre clinical trials of an unprecedented scale, data transfer across imaging centres and the use of imaging for diagnostics and for measuring clinical outcomes.
To address these questions, on January 8, 2016, JPND launched a call for community-led working groups on harmonisation and alignment in brain imaging methods. The proposals recommended for funding are for top scientists to come together and propose, through ‘best practice’ guidelines and/or methodological frameworks, how to overcome key barriers to the use of imaging in neurodegenerative disease research.
The call attracted proposals with partners from across Europe and beyond, including Asia, Australia, North America and South America. A notable number of groups based in the United States were involved in responses to the call. Funding decisions were based upon scientific evaluation and recommendations to sponsor countries by a JPND peer review panel.
“This call perfectly embodies JPND’s mission and objectives,” said Professor Philippe Amouyel, Chair of the JPND Management Board. “The purpose of JPND is to strengthen coordination and collaboration in neurodegenerative disease research across different countries. We want to ensure that research efforts are not duplicated, to build consensus and to accelerate a path toward a cure that works. This call convenes groups of leading experts to hammer out the hard questions, including the challenges of interoperability and shared and open data, to allow researchers to more rapidly and more fully exploit imaging techniques going forward.”
Each working group is expected to run for a maximum of 9 months. The outputs of the working groups are to be produced by the end of the funding period, and will be published on the JPND website and used for further JPND actions. In addition, a common workshop will be organised to bring together and present the recommendations of each working group, encouraging the further exchange of ideas and wider dissemination to different stakeholder groups.
For more information on the working groups recommended for funding, click here.
A digital map of the ageing brain could aid the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders in older people, a study suggests.
The atlas created using images from MRI scans of older people could aid diagnosis by comparing the patients’ scans with a detailed map of the healthy ageing brain.
Most existing MRI atlases are based on the brains of young and middle-aged people, which don’t reflect the normal changes that take place in the brain as we age, the team says. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh constructed a detailed atlas of the human brain using MRI scans from more than 130 healthy people aged 60 or over.
The team used their atlas to study brain scans taken of normal older subjects and those who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The atlas was able to pinpoint changes in patients’ brain structure that can be an underlying sign of the condition, researchers say.
The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Dr David Alexander Dickie, of The University of Edinburgh’s Brain Research Imaging Centre and SINAPSE, who was first author of the study, said: “We’re absolutely delighted with these preliminary results and that our brain MRI atlases may be used to support earlier diagnoses of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Earlier diagnoses are currently our strongest defence against these devastating diseases and, while our work is preliminary and ongoing, digital brain atlases are likely to be at the core of this defence.”
Source: University of Edinburgh
Researchers in Oxford, UK have discovered a specific network in the brain that is the first to degenerate with age and also the most vulnerable spot for the development of schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to analyze changes in the brain structures of 484 healthy participants, ages eight to 85 years.
“Our results show that the same specific parts of the brain not only develop more slowly, but also degenerate faster than other parts,” said researcher Dr. Gwenaëlle Douaud, at Oxford University’s Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB).
“These complex regions, which combine information coming from various senses, seem to be more vulnerable than the rest of the brain to both schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s, even though these two diseases have different origins and appear at very different, almost opposite, times of life.”
The researchers used a “data-driven” approach for the study. Instead of looking for a particular pattern of brain change over the lifespan in a specific location of the brain, they analyzed all the imaging data to see what patterns appeared.