The EU Joint Programme - Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) is inviting calls for proposals from research teams across Europe to increase understanding of the factors that put people at risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases (ND) such as Alzheimer's and also to evaluate health and social care strategies for people living with these debilitating illnesses.
'The incidence of Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's is exploding due to aging populations, which are creating huge social, economic and healthcare impacts across the world' according to Professor Philippe Amouyel, Chair of the JPND Management Board. 'With this in mind, European Member States have identified these two areas of greatest need for targeted investment in order to delay progression or prevent ND and to improve the care provided for those living with these diseases and their carers'. Professor Amouyel added 'This investment is part of a series of annual JPND funding initiatives over the next three years, aimed at addressing priority areas identified in our European Research Strategy. This year's calls will see approximately 25 million euro made available to applicants from over 20 countries.
According to Professor Thomas Gasser, University of Tübingen and Chair of the JPND Scientific Advisory Board, 'these actions are an important step towards realising the ultimate goal of JPND - finding causes, developing cures, and identifying appropriate ways to care for those with neurodegenerative diseases'.
The following neurodegenerative diseases are included for both calls:
• Alzheimer's disease and other dementias
• Parkinson's disease and PD‐related disorders
• Prion disease
• Motor neurone diseases
• Huntington's disease
• Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA)
• Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)
Call 1: Assessing risk factors for ND
The first call for proposals aims to attract international teams of researchers who will explore the different processes at work in normal aging versus neurodegenerative aging and determine what role genetic and environmental factors can play. Factors such as family history, gender, stress levels, nutrition and others, can affect an individual's risk, and provide protection from, or even resilience to, neurodegenerative diseases. However, it is likely that a combination of factors are involved, so a critical step will be to establish the relationship between genetic, epigenetic, environmental and social factors and their relative importance in order to identify those factors that can be changed or modified.
Modern research techniques have allowed researchers to create models of risk and protective factors. The aim of this call is to engage researchers to use these techniques and apply them to neurodegenerative diseases. The ultimate aim will be to use the knowledge generated to develop strategies that can delay or even prevent these diseases.