35 partners from industry and academia to join European research initiative for the prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia

Posted by ap507 at Jan 19, 2015 01:39 PM |
University of Leicester plays key role in new alliance

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 19 January 2015

The European Prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia (EPAD) Initiative is a collaborative research initiative to improve the chance of successfully preventing Alzheimer’s dementia and to better understand early aspects of Alzheimer’s disease before dementia develops.

  • The 5 year EPAD programme is part of the Innovative Medicines Initiative, a joint undertaking between the European Union and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, EFPIA.
  • EPAD will establish a European-wide register of 24,000 participants, of which 1,500 will be invited to participate in a trial to test new treatments for prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia

An alliance of academia and industry, including the University of Leicester, has announced the start of a novel collaboration to test innovative treatments for the prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia.

Previous attempts to bring new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease to the market have been disappointing despite a high level of investment. However, the realisation that Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder and that early intervention may be more effective has led to research efforts being focused on prevention.

The goal of the initiative is the prevention of dementia in people with evidence of the disease (such as biomarker abnormalities as identified by specific tests), who still may have little or no complaints or clinical symptoms.

Led from the University of Edinburgh, the UK’s contribution to EPAD also includes the Universities of Leicester, Cambridge, Oxford and Cardiff.

New tools and methods now allow the identification of patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. This creates an opportunity to have new treatment options investigated in clinical studies early on. A difficulty however remains with the large number of patients and study sites needed to confirm a therapeutic effect within a limited span of time. In contrast to several pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions pursuing this in isolation, a joint effort clearly has advantages: the identification and referral of the concerned patients is accelerated and several treatment options can be tested rapidly within one same trial.

Therefore, EPAD aims to develop a platform using existing information from national or regional patient cohorts or register studies, which have already identified potential patients. Through EPAD, the undertaking of better, adaptive, multi-arm proof of concept studies for early and accurate decisions on the ongoing development of drug candidates or drug combinations is facilitated.

All data collected from the cohort and trial will become publically available for analysis to improve disease models in the pre-dementia phase of Alzheimer’s disease.

Professor Anthony Brookes of the University of Leicester’s world-renowned Department of Genetics is providing technologies which will enable the project to scan for suitable clinical trial subjects in real time, across many diverse patient collections throughput Europe and beyond. This is based on his team’s Café Variome ‘data discovery’ system, about which he said: “The project will be able to discover the existence and location of potential trial subjects by merely a few button clicks, rather than by email and phone based explorations that could take months to complete. This substantial time saving is essential for drug testing on early stage Alzheimer patients, and we have found a way to achieve this advance without moving any subject data out of any source database.”

About Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive degenerative disease which causes loss of neurons in the brain. The symptoms eventually and inevitably manifest as Alzheimer’s dementia which impacts cognition, function and behaviour, becomes progressively worse over time and cannot be reversed. There are 7.7 million new cases of dementia globally each year, suggesting one new case every four seconds. There were an estimated 44.4 million people with dementia in 2013 and this number is estimated to increase to 135.5 million by 2050.[1] Currently approved treatments may temporarily stabilise or slow the worsening of symptoms, but do not alter the course of the disease. Attempts to bring new drugs to market for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia have been disappointing despite massive commercial, public and academic investment of time and resources.

You can view the full release here: http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/pdf-files/ABrookes%20-%20UK_EPAD%20master%20press%20release%20UK%20-%20Jan%2018.pdf

[1] Alzheimer’s Disease International (http://www.alz.co.uk/research/statistics)


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