Published: 20-02-2012 00:00 | Updated: 26-11-2013 10:29

Karolinska Institutet coordinates international research on neurodegenerative diseases

Karolinska Institutet has been selected to coordinate a major EU research project on neurodegenerative diseases involving 22 countries and a total budget of over 90 million kronor.

Bengt Winblad.
Bengt Winblad.

We´re naturally delighted that Sweden has been asked to lead this European collaboration, says principal coordinator Bengt Winblad, professor of geriatrics at Karolinska Institutet Alzheimer Disease Research Center.

The research project is focusing largely on already known biomarkers existing in the spinal fluid of patients with Alzheimer´s or Parkinson´s disease. One of the objectives is to standardise and harmonise these substances so that the same reference values can be used everywhere for diagnostic purposes, for example - what concentrations of different biomarkers must there be for a diagnosis to be possible?

The project is also looking at developing new biomarkers (i.e. identifying new substances) of relevance to learn more about these diseases. All in all, this recently launched EU collaboration can lead to earlier and more accurate diagnoses for Alzheimer´s and Parkinson´s disease, and enable the therapeutic effects of new drugs to be monitored.

This is particularly relevant when it comes to neurodegenerative diseases, since they´re normally discovered at a relatively late stage, says Professor Winblad.

The project is called BIOMARKAPD and is being financed by the research councils of the participating countries. A European research network, the Joint Programme in Neurodegenerative Disorders (JPND), was formed last year to coordinate research into these diseases, including ALS, Parkinson´s, Alzheimer´s and other dementia diseases. These are diseases that are expected to rise drastically as the population grows older, and are predicted to entail considerable costs for society in general.

The JPND announced substantial research grants last year, and BIOMARKAPD was one of four projects that was approved and awarded funding.