What's the problem?
There is no cure for dementia. Treatments for symptoms only work for some people, and for a short period. This is not for want of trying; pharmaceutical companies spent years, and upwards of €10 billion, looking for an effective treatment without success. The problem is this high failure rate of clinical trials, especially at the late stages, as well as the lack of understanding of the underlying disease mechanisms of the disease and the difficulty in translating laboratory findings into new treatments.
What is IMI doing about it?
IMI has funded over 20 projects in this area, accounting for around 10% of the budget. Most focus on Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent cause of dementia, but we also have projects that deal with other dementia-causing conditions such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. The projects cover the whole spectrum of medical research and drug development, and patients play an active role in many projects, bringing their experience of their disease to the table.
Given the complexity of the brain and nervous system, it is unsurprising that many of our projects are unravelling the role of specific genes and proteins in disease. Other projects are exploring ways of identifying people at greatest risk of developing dementia and on how to improve diagnosis, management and development of novel treatments. We also have projects applying a ‘big data’ approach to progress in the area.
IMI research is...
|...translating scientific findings into new treatments||ADAPTED, IMPRIND and PHAGO have made important discoveries about the function of the APOE gene, the key mechanisms involved in tau protein misfolding and neuroinflammation, translating their findings into new tools, assays and platforms. EQIPD is improving the quality of evidence generation in preclinical research, thus helping cutting down on the high failure rate in trials of potential dementia drugs.|
|…categorising dementia into different subtypes||AETIONOMY, EMIF-AD and PRISM have identified groups of patients with the same neurodegenerative disease but who differ significantly from each other, taking us closer to personalised treatments.|
|…reducing the high failure rate of clinical trials of dementia drugs||Biomarkers identified by EMIF-AD can improve patient selection for trials, as can social functioning clues from personal devices (PRISM). RADAR-AD's digital platform can track changes in cognitive and functional abilities and EPAD's platform makes enrolment more efficient, AMYPAD's is studying the optimal use of β-amyloid PET imaging for more better and cheaper trials, and AETIONOMY created ‘Virtual Patient Cohorts’.|
|…generating invaluable resources and infrastructure to feed future research||EPAD, AETIONOMY and ADAPTED generated invaluable datasets and biobanks for any researcher who needs them. EBiSC2 has made more than 900 human-inducible pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) available, and EPAD's Trial Delivery Centres is a connected and certified network of sites that qualified to run Alzheimer’s clinical trials. ROADMAP created a interactive data visualisation tool that synthesises data sources from around Europe, while the EPAD Academy and EQIPD training modules train a new generation of researchers, and the Decision Tool from NEURONET helps researchers engage with regulatory and HTA bodies.|