University of Leicester Professor in new initiative on Alzheimer’s

Posted by ap507 at Mar 19, 2015 09:23 AM |
Launch of Innovative Medicines Initiative Alzheimer’s disease projects joint platform

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 19 March 2015

An international research platform involving a University of Leicester Professor has been launched today.

It brings together researchers and projects involved in different aspects of dementia research.

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and its AETIONOMY, EMIF and EPAD projects announced the creation of the IMI Alzheimer’s Disease Research Platform. The platform will facilitate collaboration between the three projects, helping them to deliver results faster.

Looking to the future, the projects are keen to collaborate with other Alzheimer’s disease research projects worldwide. The announcement comes during a symposium held at the 12th International Conference on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases and Related Neurological Disorders (AD/PD 2015), and in the wake of a major World Health Organization (WHO) conference on dementia.

Anthony Brookes, Professor of Bioinformatics and Genomics in the world-renowned Department of Genetics at the University of Leicester, said: “Unifying the world's dementia research means appropriately and effectively connecting and synergising the data from these projects. The University of Leicester operates in the large EMIF and EPAD projects to help innovate and deliver the necessary data management solutions, in particular emphasising joint data sharing and data discovery approaches that can release the value of integrated data while respecting the requirements and ambitions of researchers and patients alike.”

Professor Brookes’s team at Leicester have for many years run the world’s largest open access ‘GWAS Central’ database, which provides a centralised compilation of summary level findings from all published Genome Wide Association Studies, thereby mapping common human genetic variations to risks of various diseases and other traits.

More recently he has expanded this area of work, and thereby contributed to the high-profile Beacon project in the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH), by devising the federated Cafe Variome system that feeds possible and probable disease causing mutations into a search engine for a global ‘Internet of DNA’ that will link millions of genomes together.

Dementia already affects over 35 million people globally, and as populations age, this figure is set to rise to over 115 million by 2050. The disease places a huge and growing burden on health and social care systems and on the families and carers of those affected. Yet despite decades of research, there is still neither treatment nor cure for the disease.

The challenge of developing new, effective treatments for dementia is simply too great for any organisation to tackle alone, and so IMI has launched a number of projects that bring together leading experts from the pharmaceutical industry, universities, small biotechs, and patient organisations from across Europe and beyond. The three projects in the new IMI Alzheimer’s Disease Research Platform have a combined budget of €138 million and address complementary areas of Alzheimer’s disease research.

AETIONOMY is paving the way towards a new approach to the classification of neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, thereby improving drug development and increasing patients’ chances of receiving a treatment that works for them.

EMIF is developing a common information framework of patient-level data that will link up and facilitate access to diverse medical and research data sources, opening up new avenues of research, particularly in the fields of Alzheimer’s disease and obesity. 

EPAD is pioneering a new, more flexible approach to clinical trials of innovative Alzheimer’s disease treatments designed for people who have the disease but have not yet developed dementia.


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