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Alzheimer Europe holds 12th lunch debate at the European Parliament

Tuesday 28 February 2012

On 28 February, Alzheimer Europe held its 12th lunch debate at the European Parliament in Brussels. The event was hosted by Françoise Grossetête, MEP (France), who was represented by fellow MEP Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, also from France. The debate focused on efforts to speed up drug discovery for Alzheimer's disease, specifically through the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and the PharmaCog project.

IMI is a programme to promote cooperation between the public and private sectors. It is jointly managed and funded by the European Commission and    EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations. Dr. Elisabetta Vaudano, IMI Principal Scientific Manager, highlighted the need for innovation: the last drug approved for Alzheimer's disease was memantine in 2003.

IMI aims to create new research tools, models and methodologies to bring the right drug to the right patient, at the right stage and at the right dose. This involves open, non-competitive collaboration of pharmaceutical companies in research projects such as the PharmaCog project.

PharmaCog stands for Prediction of Cognitive Properties of New Drug Candidates for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Early Clinical Development. The project's activities were presented by Dr. Jill Richardson, EFPIA Coordinator and Dr. Alexandra Auffret, Academic Coordinator.

There are 30 partners in this five year project. They are developing tools to provide objective measures for:

- stratification of patient populations (diagnosis)

- classification of disease severity (surrogate endpoint)

- prediction of treatment outcome (risk factor)

- drug response (pharmacodynamics)

These tools will be used to meet the main project objectives. These include the development of models to improve the drug discovery process and also pharmacodynamic markers to support dose selection. In addition, the team aims to identify biomarkers of disease progression and patient stratification.

The final objective is to gain industry and regulatory acceptance of these models and markers.

The following Members of the European Parliament attended the debate: Heinz Becker (Austria), Frieda Brepoels (Belgium), Sean Kelly (Ireland), Astrid Lulling (Luxembourg) and Marina Yannakoudakis (UK).

Other participants included assistants to other MEPs, representatives from the European Commission, national policy makers, Alzheimer associations and pharmaceutical companies.