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Françoise Grossetête co-authors article on EU efforts to combat Alzheimer’s disease

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Françoise Grossetête, MEP (France) and Chairperson of the European Alzheimer’s Alliance, commemorated World Alzheimer’s Day by publishing a joint article outlining the progress made by various EU initiatives to combat Alzheimer’s disease. The co-author is Philippe Amouyel, Professor of Epidemiology at CHRU (Lille, France), Director of the Fondation Plan Alzheimer and President of the coordination committee of JPND (EU Joint Programming - Neurodegenerative Disease Research).

The authors argue that joint, international public/private research initiatives are – and will remain – the most effective way to make progress towards an eventual cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

The article shows the steady rise in Alzheimer’s disease cases (which may reach 65.7 million worldwide by 2030) and describes the main programmes operating in Europe today, including details of the JPND, ALCOVE and IMI initiatives.

There is an increasing number of people with Alzheimer's disease today, and that number will continue to grow:

- in Europe, among people aged 85+, one of four women and one of five men are currently affected by Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. The number of afflicted people will reportedly double over the next 20 years.

- Worldwide, there are now an estimated 35.6 million people with Alzheimer’s disease. This number will nearly double after 20 years, meaning that there could be up to 65.7 million people with Alzheimer’s disease by 2030.

These are the lowest estimates. The authors note that the number of people with Alzheimer's disease is generally underestimated, due to the difficulty of diagnosis.
The European Parliament and Commission, sovereign EU Member States and private organisations are all involved in funding and conducting Alzheimer’s disease research. The authors chose the following initiatives to illustrate the scope and extent of Alzheimer’s disease research:

EU Joint Programming - Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND)

The JPND initiative, which began in 2008, pools resources from all EU countries to address challenges which cannot be resolved by any country individually. The area of neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer's disease, was the first to be selected as a Joint Programming initiative.

JPND currently includes 23 countries which collaborate on the following pilot project: "Optimization of biomarkers and harmonization of their use among the clinical centers." This project was launched in May 2011. To date, over 17 million Euros have been raised and distributed to researchers in 21 countries.

The ALCOVE project (Alzheimer's Cooperative Valuation in Europe)

ALCOVE is a joint action between European Member States which aims to improve knowledge on dementia and its consequences. Research is focused on four key areas: prevalence, early diagnosis, care & services and ethics & dignity. ALCOVE is funded by the European Commission and currently involves 30 partners from 19 Member States.

Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)

IMI is another European Union initiative which brings together pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, private firms, regulatory agencies and patient organisations. The aim is to speed up the development of better and safer medicines.

A current IMI project is called PharmaCog, or "Prediction of cognitive properties of new drugs for neurodegenerative diseases in early clinical development." PharmaCog focuses on developing new tools for testing drug candidates more effectively and is funded by a contribution of some Euro 20 million from the European Commission and pharmaceutical companies.

 For more information, please see the original article “Lutte contre la maladie d'Alzheimer: l'Union européenne en première ligne” on the Le Monde newspaper website: