New European initiative to build data platform for neurodegenerative diseases

A new initiative has launched, called the European Platform for Neurodegenerative Diseases (EPND), to support data and sample sharing for neurodegenerative diseases.

Initiatives already in place in this field will be combined to build, grow and develop one platform for storage and analysis of clinical samples and data collections. It’s hoped the platform will help to connect existing European research infrastructures and support the discovery of biomarkers, new diagnostics and treatments for the benefit of people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The programme is being supported with funding over five years from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), to establish a self-sustaining network, for neurodegenerative disease research.

“Despite robust research efforts to accelerate biomarker discovery, at this time there are few secure, accessible ways for clinical samples and data to be discovered and shared within the neurodegenerative disease research community”, stated the EPND’s announcement.

Anthony Brookes, Project co-Coordinator, Professor of Genetics at the University of Leicester, said: “The EPND platform will move us towards comprehensive data discovery, harmonisation, storage and analysis, by virtue of a core Workbench concept that builds upon national and international data infrastructures.

“The collaboration will deliver on the promise of big data to rapidly generate new knowledge and share emerging insights, and thereby advance AD and PD treatments whilst also providing an integrative technical and governance template that can be adopted by many more healthcare domains.”

Niranjan Bose, Managing Director of Health and Life Sciences at Gates Ventures, added: “With the potential to make data accessible from more than 120,000 research participants, in partnership with over 60 European cohorts, EPND will provide vital information to scientists, researchers and clinicians. It will help accelerate the development of innovative biomarkers and improve access to biosamples, enabling validation of early detection tools.”

The programme also aims to define and agree principles to enable access to samples and data, establish fair and transparent governance and processes, and achieve self-sustainability after five years.