EU Calls for Research Proposals on Common Links in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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Huntington's research effort

The European Union is inviting researchers in 20 countries to work together on projects focusing on Huntington’s disease (HD) and other degenerative diseases.

The agency sponsoring the effort, the Joint Programme — Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND), said in a press release that neurodegenerative conditions have become a global health epidemic, with heavy economic and social repercussions.

It believes it is important to develop projects that lead to better understanding of the shared features of neurodegenerative diseases. Findings from recent research indicate the presence of a genetic, biochemical, and clinical link between similar molecular pathways that likely play a role in how neurodegenerative conditions start and progress.

JPDN is calling on researchers from several countries to submit innovative, collaborative and multidisciplinary research proposals that increase scientists’ knowledge of shared mechanisms in the diseases. Another goal is for the research to lead to new definitions and diagnoses of the diseases. A more overriding goal is for the research to lead to revolutionary treatments for patients with Huntington’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

All of the countries that participate in the research effort will contribute to the 23 million euros in total funding.

Participating countries are Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

JPND has set a deadline for pre-proposal submission of midnight March 6 Central European Time. Submissions must be done electronically.

The joint initiative follows a call for research proposals from the JPND in 2013 that supported 10 projects (listed here). Total funding for 2013 was 12 million euros.

“JPND recognizes that a critical step in the path to effective treatments or preventive strategies for neurodegenerative diseases is a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms of these diseases,” Philippe Amouyel, JPND’s chair, said in a press release. “What recent research has made clear is that these conceptual advancements will require greater thinking across traditional clinical boundaries.

“With this call, some €23 million will be made available to applicants to develop highly specialized cross-border projects that could lead to a better understanding of the biological underpinnings of neurodegenerative disease,” he said. “Our hope is that these developments will in turn lead to new, outside-the-box diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.”