Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects over 35 million people world-wide at present, these numbers are expected to grow substantially over the next few decades and there are currently no medicines which slow the progress of the disease.
To boost the development of new medicines for AD, a major new European-wide project has now been launched to investigate an area of AD research which has previously received little attention. The ADAPTED (Alzheimer’s Disease Apolipoprotein Pathology for Treatment Elucidation and Development) project focusses on the APOE gene which is well known as a risk factor for developing the disease, but precisely how this gene contributes to the risk of developing AD is not known.
ADAPTED, which brings together the expertise of researchers in universities, research institutes and biotech and pharmaceutical companies from across Europe and the USA is led by Dr Agustin Ruiz from Fundació ACE in Barcelona, Spain and Dr Margaretha Bakker from AbbVie Germany in Ludwigshafen.
The project is a public private partnership and is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). The IMI is Europe’s largest public-private initiative aiming to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients. ‘ADAPTED draws on the combined expertise of scientists from universities, institutes and companies worldwide,’ said Pierre Meulien, IMI Executive Director. ‘I am confident that this approach will significantly enhance our understanding of the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease and so contribute to IMI’s wider efforts to deliver safe, effective treatments for Alzheimer’s.’
All the researchers involved in the ADAPTED project met at Fundació ACE in Barcelona recently to discuss this innovative programme of research.
“ADAPTED will tackle a major scientific challenge – to understand the function of the APOE gene. The ADAPTED research team plan to generate enough knowledge to really unravel the complexities of this gene and the part that it plays in AD. If the ADAPTED project is successful, the field of AD treatment and prevention will enter into a completely new era identifying new medicines with promise of treating this devastating disease” said Dr Ruiz.
“People who carry a particular version of the APOE gene, known as APOE4, have a considerably higher risk of developing AD. They also tend to develop the disease much earlier in life which severely impacts on their quality of life. It is not well understood why this is and therefore APOE has largely been ignored in the quest to find treatments for AD. By bringing together leading experts in a range of state-of-the-art technologies to tackle this question we will gain better insights into the causes of AD which will lead to better treatments for patients” added Dr Bakker.
ADAPTED aims to develop new tools for the use of AD researchers across the world. Using the expertise of the ADAPTED partners in a range of cutting-edge biological analysis methods the project will provide the research community with a new generation of human cell –based tools to mimic and investigate the causes and progression of the disease.
As well as Fundació ACE and AbbVie, the ADAPTED partners are: Biogen, CAEBI Bioinformatica SL, Spanish National Research Council, Dundee Cell Products, Erasmus Medical Centre, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Kite Innovation Europe, Leiden University, Mimetas BV, Universitaetsklinikum Bonn and University Hospital of Cologne.