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Members of the European Platform for Neurodegenerative Diseases (EPND) will establish a collaborative platform for efficient sample and data sharing, linking existing European research infrastructures to accelerate the discovery of biomarkers, new diagnostics and treatments for the benefit of people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Two scientists in a lab

There is currently a lack of available treatments that can prevent or modify the progression of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, which affect millions of people in Europe. Despite robust research efforts to accelerate biomarker discovery, there are few secure, accessible ways for clinical samples and data to be discovered and shared within the research community.

'Alzheimer's and Parkinson's cost millions of lives and will create an estimated economic burden in Europe of €267 billion by 2030,' said project co-Coordinator Pieter Jelle Visser, Associate Professor at the University of Maastricht. 'EPND will answer this massive challenge with a solution on the same scale, bringing together teams, samples and data from across the continent.'

Professor Michele Hu is a Co-Investigator on the project, and UK lead for the Parkinson's disease biomarker collection.

The development of effective treatments requires biomarkers for early detection of disease in individuals, for assessing treatment efficacy, and for patient stratification. Thanks to funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), EPND will begin a five-year effort to establish a self-sustaining network that will support the discovery, harmonization, storage and analysis of high-quality clinical samples and data from neurodegenerative disease research.

Beyond establishing the network, the project aims to create agreed principles to enable access to samples and data, establish fair and transparent governance and processes, and achieve self-sustainability after five years. When complete, it will create a new entity supported by some of the most prestigious medical and research organisations in the EU. This public-private partnership will accelerate and simplify innovation in the areas of R&D, regulatory, clinical and healthcare practices.

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