Yearly Archives: 2019

The EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) will shortly launch a new multinational call for proposals for “Novel imaging and brain stimulation methods and technologies related to Neurodegenerative Diseases”.

Recent years have seen major increases in the range and power of these technologies across the basic, clinical and patient-centred domains of JPND. This joint transnational call will further promote research aiming at the development of novel and the advanced use of existing cutting-edge brain imaging and brain stimulation technologies related to neurodegenerative diseases. Approaches must be translational and patient-centered.

The upcoming call will focus on the following research areas:

Imaging technologies, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Position Emission Tomography or super-resolution microscopy and molecular imaging techniques have brought about a dramatic improvement in the understanding of the onset, development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases. It is the aim to accelerate this progress and to fund research projects that focus on the development of novel imaging technologies or on improvements to the application of existing cutting-edge imaging technologies.

Brain stimulation techniques, such as Deep Brain Stimulation, have proven to directly affect the quality of life of patients. Other techniques, such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, transcranial Direct Current Stimulation or Focused Ultrasound could have potential to offer new non-invasive treatments. It is the aim to fund research that will lead to new or improved applications of both invasive and non-invasive brain stimulation techniques for the diagnosis and the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

The following funding organisations intend to support this joint transnational call:

  • Australia, National Health and Medical Research Council*
  • Austria, Austrian Research Promotion Agency on behalf of BMBWF
  • Belgium, The Research Foundation – Flanders
  • Belgium, The Fund for Scientific Research
  • Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Czech Republic, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports*
  • Denmark, Innovation Fund Denmark*
  • France, French National Research Agency*
  • Germany, Federal Ministry of Education and Research
  • Hungary, National Research, Development and Innovation Office*
  • Ireland, Health Research Board
  • Italy, Ministry of Health*
  • Latvia, State Education Development Agency*
  • Luxembourg, National Research Fund
  • Netherlands, The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development*
  • Norway, The Research Council of Norway*
  • Poland, National Science Centre*
  • Spain, National Institute of Health Carlos III
  • Sweden, Swedish Financial Council
  • Switzerland, Swiss National Science Foundation
  • Turkey, Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey*

* Decision pending

This will be a two-step call, expected to be launched in early January 2020, with a likely pre-proposal submission deadline in March 2020. Further details will be provided with the launch of the call.

Please Note:
All information regarding future JPND call topics is subject to change
Final call information will be published on the JPND website (

Scientists know that faulty proteins can cause harmful deposits or ”aggregates” in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Although the causes of these protein deposits remain a mystery, it is known that abnormal aggregates can result when cells fail to
transmit proper genetic information to proteins.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego first highlighted this cause of brain disease more than 10 years ago. Today, they have identified a gene, Ankrd16, that prevents the protein aggregates they originally observed. Usually, the information transfer from gene to protein is carefully controlled — biologically ”proofread” and corrected — to avoid the production of improper proteins.
Recent research identified that Ankrd16 rescued specific neurons — called Purkinje cells — that die when proofreading fails. Without normal levels of Ankrd16, these nerve cells, located in the cerebellum, incorrectly activate the amino acid serine, which is then improperly incorporated into proteins, causing protein aggregation.

The levels of Ankrd16 are normally low in Purkinje cells, making these neurons vulnerable to proofreading defects. Raising the level of Ankrd16 protects these cells from dying, while removing Ankrd16 from other neurons in mice with a proofreading deficiency caused widespread buildup of abnormal proteins and ultimately neuronal death. The researchers note that only a few modifier genes of disease mutations such as Ankrd16 have been identified and a modifier-based mechanism for understanding the underlying pathology of neurodegenerative diseases may be a promising route to understanding disease development.

Paper: “ANKRD16 prevents neuron loss caused by an editing-defective tRNA synthetase.”

Reprinted by materials provided by: The University of California – San Diego

The EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) initiative[1] has launched its updated global Research and Innovation Strategy (RIS), to provide a unified framework for the support of world class research into neurodegenerative diseases.

Neurodegenerative diseases are one of the world’s leading medical and societal challenges and there are now expected to be 50 million people worldwide suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Globally, these numbers show no signs of abating, and it is estimated that by 2050 in Europe alone, the total direct and informal care costs for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease will exceed €350 billion annually.[2]

JPND is the first and largest collaborative research initiative established to tackle the growing challenge posed by neurodegenerative diseases. JPND’s ultimate goal is to accelerate the discovery of a cure and to enable early diagnosis for early personalised treatments. In the meantime, it is essential to implement solutions that can alleviate, albeit partially, the plight of families and the economic burden brought about by the increasing prevalence of this disease in our ageing populations. Thus besides basic research, the scientific endeavour concerns also translational and clinical, and social care and health services researches.

Today’s release of the Research and Innovation Strategy (RIS) updates the common vision of 30 JPND member countries. It renews the strategy that was first published in 2012, to tackle the major societal challenge of neurodegenerative diseases.

JPND speaks to the following individuals about the RIS.

Dr Barbara Kerstiëns, Head of the unit responsible for Non-Communicable Diseases and the Challenge of Healthy Ageing in the European Commissions’ Directorate-General for Research & Innovation says: The European Commission is keenly aware that Neurodegenerative Diseases is one of the leading medical and societal challenges of our time. It recognises that JPND has been instrumental in addressing these by aligning and coordinating national efforts among Member States and other countries, reducing fragmentation and duplication in research and overall increasing the effectiveness and impact of research in this field.

JPND’s ambitious new RIS invites multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration as well as engagement with patients, their families and carers. Its five scientific priorities cover the full spectrum of unmet needs – the knowledge gap, the prevention gap, the early diagnosis and disease management gap, as well as the growing socio-economic challenges of caring for and assisting people faced with those diseases. The strategy takes important factors relating to ND care into account, such as comorbidities, sex and gender differences, the role of ageing and the complex ethical issues. Moreover, the RIS recommendations are in line with the Commission’s priorities in fostering innovative partnerships, taking advantage of the latest advances in digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, promoting an Open Access approach and translating research findings into evidenced-based public health policies and, ultimately, better health and social care.”

Professor Philippe Amouyel, University of Lille (France) and Chair of the JPND Management Board says: The challenge is to tackle neurodegeneration, and in particular, Alzheimer’s disease through an unprecedented collaboration at the European level and beyond. The ultimate goal is to facilitate the cooperation of researchers, to reduce fragmentation, to prevent unnecessary doubling of efforts and to pool and organise resources on a voluntary basis for the benefit of the populations. Our RIS forms the basis for current and future JPND initiatives, as well as a fundamental reference point for the national and organisational strategic plans. It provides a global common framework for future investment that addresses how countries can effectively improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment and patient care.

JPND Scientific Advisory Board Chair, Professor Thomas Gasser says:Since the publication of our first RIS in 2012, there have been major advances, both scientific and technological, that have shaped the renewed RIS. Data science, including artificial intelligence-driven methods of data analyses, has transformed many research areas, and this is now reflected in the updated Strategy. Another important issue reflected in the renewed Strategy is the increasing awareness that the inclusion of factors like economic and cultural differences, gender issues and public and patient involvement must clearly play a more prominent role.”  Click here for JPND’s full interview with Prof Gasser.

Professor Mogens Hørder, JPND Management Board Member says: “Since the 2012 research strategy, there has been an increased alignment of goals and methodologies being built up among research institutions of JPND members. The renewed RIS sees the participation of important players outside of Europe in JPND, which forms a valuable basis for the role of JPND in the global investment in neurodegenerative disease research.

For JPND Executive Board member Dr Jacqueline Hoogendam, “the value of collaborative research should not be underestimated.” She says: “With the common vision adopted by the 30 JPND member countries, JPND enables neurodegenerative disease research in the most pressing areas at a global level, with efficient use of limited resources. In bringing together researchers from different countries whose collaborations extend beyond their joint research activities, JPND contributes to the development of the global community of neurodegenerative disease researchers.

JPND is committed to aligning and building upon national programmes to increase impact and effectiveness of research and to identify common goals that would benefit from joint action.

JPND has identified a number of thematic scientific priorities for future research:

  • The origins and progression of neurodegenerative diseases
  • Disease mechanisms and models
  • Diagnosis, prognosis and disease definitions
  • Developing therapies, preventive strategies and interventions
  • Health and social care

JPND is working to implement the above goals through:

  • Building supportive infrastructure and platforms via harmonisation of data and materials and promotion of an open access approach to the sharing of data and resources
  • Partnering with industry and healthcare providers and promoting innovation within a multi-partner international funding framework
  • Developing greater interaction with regulators to integrate patient needs
  • Linking worldwide research efforts in neurodegenerative disease research
  • Utilising resources and infrastructure outside of Europe and better connecting global patient public involvement (PPI)
  • Building capacity through strengthening certain neurodegenerative disease research areas and establishing networks across and between disciplines and researchers
  • Developing an evidence-led educational approach to embed a research culture across the full spectrum of health, social and palliative care
  • Strengthening the connection to policy makers
  • Ensuring effective communication of the research agenda and engaging with a wide range of sectors and stakeholders


JPND receives support from the European Commission.


To download a full copy of the Research and Innovation Strategy, click here.

To download an Executive Summary of the Research and Innovation Strategy, click here.

For more information about the 2019 Research and Innovation Strategy, click here.

For the full interview with JPND’s Scientific Advisory Board Chair Thomas Gasser about the Research and Innovation Strategy, click here.


[1] Joint Programming is a collaborative approach supported by the European Commission in which countries define a common vision and a strategic research agenda, in order to address major societal challenges which are beyond the scale of any national research programme. The Joint Programme on Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) was established as the pilot for this new type of coordinated approach to research.
[2] Maresova  et al.,Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases: Expected Economic Impact on Europe-A Call for a Uniform European Strategy, 2016, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 54(3):1123-1133.



Freezing of gait (FoG) is a disabling symptom of Parkinson’s Disease, characterised by patients becoming stuck while walking and unable to move forward. It is well-known to lead to falls and lower quality of life, making it an important target for treatment.

Research has linked FoG to aspects of attention and cognitive control. Patients with Parkinson’s Disease who self-reported FoG and who were free from dementia were randomly allocated to receive either a cognitive training intervention or an active control.

65 patients were randomised into the study. 20 patients were randomly assigned to the cognitive training intervention and 18 were randomised to the active control group. Both groups were clinician-led and conducted twice-weekly for seven weeks. The primary outcome was the percentage of time spent frozen during a ‘Timed Up and Go’ task, assessed while patients were both on and off
dopaminergic medications.

A large and statistically significant reduction in FoG severity was shown in patients in the cognitive training group on dopaminergic medication, compared to participants in the active control group on dopaminergic medication. Patients who received cognitive training also showed improved cognitive processing speed and reduced daytime sleepiness compared to those in the active control while accounting for the effect of dopaminergic medication. There was no difference between groups when they were tested without their regular dopaminergic medication. More studies using larger samples are needed to investigate this initial finding that cognitive training can reduce the severity of freezing of gait in Parkinson’s diseases patients.

Paper: “Cognitive training for freezing of gait in Parkinson’s Disease: a randomised controlled trial”

Reprinted by materials provided by The University of Sydney

The EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) initiative has announced a joint transnational call for multinational research on personalised medicine for neurodegenerative diseases.

Neurodegenerative diseases are debilitating and still largely untreatable conditions. These diseases are characterised by a large variability in their origins, mechanisms and clinical expression, requiring treatments that will need to take into account all these specificities. Deciphering this variability is one of the biggest challenges in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and the way forward is Precision Medicine, supported by highly personalised approaches for the greatest benefit of the patients.

In this context, in partnership with the European Commission, JPND announced today a new call, inviting multinational research teams to submit proposals for ambitious, innovative, multinational and multidisciplinary collaborative research projects to change the trajectory of these debilitating diseases through the development of Precision Medicine approaches.

JPND has chosen to focus in the area of Precision Medicine, which relates to the targeting of specific elements responsible for pathology in a given individual at a particular point in time. It is an emerging approach for disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment that takes into account individual variability in genes, biological/molecular characteristics together with environmental and lifestyle factors.

According to Professor Philippe Amouyel, University of Lille (France) and Chair of the JPND Management Board:

Professor Philippe Amouyel, Chair of JPND

“During the last ten years, researchers have progressively uncovered the high complexity and wide diversity of neurodegenerative diseases. We need now to complete and use this massive amount of knowledge to develop targeted approaches to more efficiently fight the dramatic progression of these diseases.”

According to Professor Thomas Gasser, University of Tübingen (Germany) and Chair of the JPND Scientific Advisory Board:

Progresses in precision medicine will be a unique way to develop innovative approaches to prevent, slow down and cure neurodegenerative diseases. This call aims to harness the necessary expertise across Europe and globally, to address this research challenge.

Professor Amouyel added: “With this in mind, JPND participating countries in close collaboration with the European Commission have identified precision medicine as a major issue to tackle the global challenge of neurodegenerative diseases.”

Proposals submitted under this call, which is open to applicants in 24 countries, must focus on Precision Medicine in one or several of the following research areas:

  • Diagnosis (e.g. biomarkers, imaging data, omics approaches, big data analyses)
  • Prevention (e.g. biomarkers for studying novel treatments and interventions, co-morbidities, digital technologies, stratification within cohort studies and clinical trials)
  • Care (e.g. improvement of social and health care systems, molecular profiling, imaging, lifestyle data)

Proposals must also relate to any or several of the following neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, Parkinson’s disease and PD-related disorders, Prion diseases, Motor Neuron diseases, Hungtington’s disease, Spinocerebellar ataxia and Spinal muscular atrophy. JPND is committed to Patient and Public Involvement, and proposals are expected to engage patients, carers and the public.

Pre-proposals must be submitted no later than 15:00h C.E.T. on March 12, 2019.

For more information about the call, please click here.


The EU Joint Programme on Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) was established to better coordinate research efforts across countries and disciplines to more rapidly find causes, develop cures and identify better ways to care for people with neurodegenerative disease. Today more than 40 million people worldwide are estimated to be living with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders – the most common class of neurodegenerative disease – and this figure is expected to rise in the coming decades. The JPND Research and Innovation Strategy identified research priorities and provided a framework for future investment and is available for download here.

Final call information will be published on the JPND website (

Moderate to high intensity exercise does not slow cognitive impairment in older people with dementia, a trial published by The BMJ finds. The view that exercise might slow cognitive decline has gained popularity, however, recent reviews of trials of exercise training in people with dementia have shown conflicting results.

A team of UK researchers decided to estimate the effect of a moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength exercise training programme on cognitive impairment and other outcomes in people with dementia. 494 people with mild to moderate dementia living in the community across 15 regions of England were involved. Participants were randomly assigned to either a supervised exercise and support programme or to usual care. The main outcome was an Alzheimer’s disease assessment score (ADAS-cog) at 12 months. Other (secondary) outcomes included activities of daily living, number of falls, and quality of life.

Compliance with exercise was good and participants were assessed again at six and 12 months. The researchers found that cognitive impairment declined over the 12-month follow-up in both groups. The exercise group showed improved physical fitness in the short term, but higher ADAS-cog scores at 12 months (25.2 v 23.8) compared with the usual care group, indicating worse cognitive impairment.

Paper: “Dementia And Physical Activity (DAPA) trial of moderate to high intensity exercise training for people with dementia: randomised controlled trial”

Reprinted by materials provided by The BMJ