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New research project could enable novel therapeutic approaches in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

On 1 March 2017 the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) launched IMPRiND, an innovative research project that is devoted to investigating whether mechanisms of propagation of aggregated proteins between cells could enable novel therapeutic approaches in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are age-related neurodegenerative disorders without cure. They are characterised by the progressive loss of brain cells often along interconnected networks.

Recent evidence suggests that this progressive march of pathological lesions may be due to the release and uptake of specific aggregated proteins which act as templates for further aggregation once inside cells. A complete understanding of such events and the underpinning cellular mechanisms is still lacking.

We are seeking to understand how aggregated proteins are handled once inside brain cells and how they are passaged from cell to cell. To this end, we will work collaboratively to develop standardised tools and assays to establish disease-relevant mechanisms that could enable future therapies against disease progression in this area of unmet need.
- Dr George Tofaris, Project Coordinator

IMPRiND aims to fill this knowledge gap and develop tools and assays for targeting these pathways to pave the way for novel therapeutics that could delay the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In Alzheimer’s disease, affected patients suffer from a progressive loss of memory whereas in Parkinson’s disease the most prominent symptoms relate to slowness of movement, as well as memory decline in a proportion of them.

Today, over 45 million people worldwide live with dementia and up to 10 million with Parkinson’s disease. It is estimated that the number of patients with neurodegenerative brain diseases will increase to 131.5 million by 2050 (World Alzheimer Report 2015). The burden on caregivers who are often family members is huge. With an estimated 160 billion Euros of costs of care annually in Europe alone, this translates into a high socioeconomic burden.

IMPRiND has a total budget of 11.4 million Euros. It is supported by the IMI with 4.7 million Euros, by industrial partners with 6.4 million Euros and 0.3 million Euros from the Swiss Federation. The project runs over four years and will end on 31st February 2021.

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