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Pharma joins European Alzheimer’s research initiative

Lilly and Janssen among participants of dementia-focused IMI project
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Several major pharma companies are among the 35 organisations that have signed up to a new European collaboration to research new treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

The European Prevention of Alzheimer's dementia (EPAD) initiative is a five-year programme launched by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private partnership between the EU and members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

EPAD brings together companies with experience in neurological research, such as Lilly and Janssen, with research institutions and universities from across Europe.

One of its key aims is to establish a European-wide register of 24,000 participants who either have Alzheimer's disease or have the potential to develop the condition, a form of dementia that affects cognition, function and behaviour.

Of these participants 6,000 people will be studied as part of a consistent, longitudinal follow-up and 1,500 will be invited to participate in clinical trials to test new treatments to prevent Alzheimer's.

Prof Craig Ritchie, one of the projects co-ordinators, described EPAD as a “game-changer” for Alzheimer's research, which has faced major setbacks in recent years including the failure of several drugs to have an effect when used in the later stages of disease.

“[EPAD] is only possible because of the absolute commitment of academics, industry, policy makers and the public to work hand in hand to defeat this global threat,” said Prof Ritchie.

Unlike previous research attempts EPAD is focused on the prevention of dementia in the early stages of disease rather than treating it at a later stage.

By committing to a joint effort researchers have several advantages such as being able to accelerate the identification and referral of patients and being able to test several treatment options rapidly within the same trial.

Pharma companies involved in the project include Janssen, UCB, Pfizer, Amgen, AC Immune, Biogen Idec, Takeda, Lundbeck, Lilly, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis, Sanofi, Eisai and Araclon Biotech.

Academic institutions that have signed up to EPAD include both the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge in the UK and the Karolinska Institutet, Center For Alzheimer Disease Research in Sweden.

The launch of EPAD follows other recent developments in Alzheimer's research including a £20m trials fund launched by Alzheimer's Research UK and the £30m Neurodegeneration Medicines Acceleration Programme, which is focused on research into brain disease.

Article by
Thomas Meek

16th January 2015

From: Research



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