Researchers Examine Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease

Armen Hareyan's picture

Today Top Institute Pharma presents a new and highly promising research project. The TI Pharma project is a large-scale study into the brain material of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients, who gave permission to the Netherlands Brain Bank for their tissue to be used for scientific research. The analysis is a continuation of highly-promising results from previous studies and focuses on the genes that could be involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. The study - that must form the basis for potential drugs - is one of the largest to be carried out on an international level.

The project is being realized in cooperation with Solvay Pharmaceuticals B.V., DNage B.V., the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, the Netherlands Brain Bank, VU University Amsterdam, VU Medical Center, the Leiden University Medical Center, Utrecht University, University Medical Center Utrecht and the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam.

It is a follow-up to previous studies carried out by two public-private partnerships: that between Solvay Pharmaceuticals, the Netherlands Brain Bank and the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience on the one hand, and DNage and the Erasmus Medical Center on the other. The highly promising results from both studies were the reason why TI Pharma opted for a large-scale project.


Principle investigator Joost Verhaagen of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience: "This study is unique in several aspects. Never before has such a large-scale study been carried out into Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Moreover, we have been able to do research on people who did not yet know they had Alzheimer's disease or in whom the disease was only just starting. We can therefore follow the very first changes due to the disease as well as its progression. And that is also unique."

Additionally, this study is using rapidly-aging mouse models from DNage, in which Alzheimer and Parkinson like symptoms spontaneously occur. Following this neurodegeneration is also an interesting part of the study. Verhaagen: "We expect that this study will also yield new insights into the development of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease and that it could therefore form the basis for potential drugs."

Daan Crommelin and Victor Nickolson, scientific director and general director of TI Pharma respectively, are pleased that the top institute has this project under its wings. "TI Pharma has successfully consolidated the available strengths: companies, knowledge institutes and universities are now working together. Thanks to this partnership research results will be obtained far more quickly. And important steps can be made towards new drugs."

Alzheimer's disease is the most prevalent variant of dementia. Two-thirds of all patients who are demented suffer from Alzheimer's disease. The disease is characterized by a progressive deterioration of the psychological functioning. Alzheimer's disease usually starts at somewhere between 70 and 80 years of age, but can also start at a much younger age. It is estimated that some 24 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer's disease. There are 250,000 Alzheimer's patients in the Netherlands. Over the next few decades this number will double as a result of the aging population.

Parkinson's disease mostly begins at an older age of between 50 and 60 years. However, about 10% of the patients are younger than 40 years. Parkinson's disease is mainly characterized by a progressive disruption of the locomotor system that gravely affects the daily lives of patients and can be debilitating. The disease arises as a result of nervous cells in the midbrain dying. The cause of the disease is (still) not known and therefore prevention and cure are not possible.