The EU Joint Program - Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) initiative has launched its updated global Research and Innovation Strategy (RIS), to provide a unified framework for the support of world class research into neurodegenerative diseases.
Neurodegenerative diseases are one of the world's leading medical and societal challenges and there are now expected to be 50 million people worldwide suffering from Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. Globally, these numbers show no signs of abating, and it is estimated that by 2050 in Europe alone, the total direct and informal care costs for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease will exceed €350 billion annually.
JPND is the first and largest collaborative research initiative established to tackle the growing challenge posed by neurodegenerative diseases. JPND's ultimate goal is to accelerate the discovery of a cure and to enable early diagnosis for early personalised treatments. In the meantime, it is essential to implement solutions that can alleviate, albeit partially, the plight of families and the economic burden brought about by the increasing prevalence of this disease in our aging populations. Thus besides basic research, the scientific endeavour concerns also translational and clinical, and social care and health services researches.
The release of the Research and Innovation Strategy (RIS) updates the common vision of 30 JPND member countries. It renews the strategy that was first published in 2012, to tackle the major societal challenge of neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr Barbara Kerstiëns, Head of the unit responsible for Non-Communicable Diseases and the Challenge of Healthy Ageing in the European Commissions' Directorate-General for Research & Innovation says: "The European Commission recognises that JPND has been instrumental in addressing Neurodegenerative Diseases research by aligning and coordinating national efforts among Member States and other countries, reducing fragmentation and duplication in research and overall increasing the effectiveness and impact of research in this field.
JPND's ambitious new RIS invites multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration as well as engagement with patients, their families and carers. Its five scientific priorities cover the full spectrum of unmet needs - the knowledge gap, the prevention gap, the early diagnosis and disease management gap, as well as the growing socio-economic challenges of caring for and assisting people faced with those diseases.
The strategy takes important factors relating to neurodegenerative diseases care into account, such as comorbidities, sex and gender differences, the role of aging and the complex ethical issues. Moreover, the RIS recommendations are in line with the Commission's priorities in fostering innovative partnerships, taking advantage of the latest advances in digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, promoting an Open Access approach and translating research findings into evidenced-based public health policies and, ultimately, better health and social care."
Professor Philippe Amouyel, University of Lille (France) and Chair of the JPND Management Board says: "The challenge is to tackle neurodegeneration, and in particular, Alzheimer's disease through an unprecedented collaboration at the European level and beyond. The ultimate goal is to facilitate the cooperation of researchers, to reduce fragmentation, to prevent unnecessary doubling of efforts and to pool and organize resources on a voluntary basis for the benefit of the populations.
Our RIS forms the basis for current and future JPND initiatives, as well as a fundamental reference point for the national and strategic plans. It provides a global and common framework for future investment that addresses how countries can effectively improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment and patient care."
JPND Scientific Advisory Board Chair, Professor Thomas Gasser says: "Since the publication of our first RIS in 2012, there have been major advances, both scientific and technological, that have shaped the renewed RIS. Data science, including artificial intelligence-driven methods of data analyses, has transformed many research areas, and this is now reflected in the updated Strategy.
Another important issue reflected in the renewed Strategy is the increasing awareness that the inclusion of factors like economic and cultural differences, gender issues and public and patient involvement must clearly play a more prominent role."