The EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) will launch a new cohesive action with the European Commission – a call for “Linking pre-diagnosis disturbances of physiological systems to Neurodegenerative Diseases”.
Neurodegenerative diseases are debilitating and largely untreatable conditions that are strongly linked with age. Worldwide, there are estimated to be 50 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, the most common class of neurodegenerative diseases. This figure is expected to double every 20 years as the population ages. The total direct and informal care costs of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and related disorders are expected to surpass €350 billion per year across the European Union and about US$ one trillion worldwide. Existing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases are limited in effect and mainly address the symptoms rather than the cause or the progressive course. With this in mind, JPND has identified a pressing need for investment aimed at enabling research projects on understanding the mechanisms of non-pharmacological interventions.
Several non-pharmacological interventions have been shown to be effective and accepted by patients, e. g. from existing cohort data. Such interventions may include, among others, psychosocial interventions, neuromodulation, nutrition or exercise. Although neurodegenerative diseases are recognised as multifactorial syndromes, there is little interaction between biomedical and psychosocial approaches. One rationale for integrating biomedical and psychosocial research is the discordance between neuropathology and cognitive functioning. However, there is yet little knowledge about the mechanisms of non-pharmacological interventions, e. g. on the molecular or cellular level.
The aim of the call is to establish a number of ambitious, innovative, multi-disciplinary and multinational collaborative research projects that seek to improve the understanding of the complex and multifactorial pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases by applying multi-OMICs and Big data approaches in order to generate useful information for the diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and drug discovery of neurodegenerative diseases. Proposals must focus on one or several of the following neurodegenerative diseases:
• Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
• Parkinson’s disease and PD-related disorders
• Prion diseases
• Motor neuron diseases
• Huntington’s disease
• Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA)
• Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)
Total funding for this Call is around 16.5 MEUR. The FNR has allocated 500,000 EUR for this Call, which is expected to fund 1 – 2 projects involving Luxembourg partners.