This past January, the European prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia consortium (EPAD) launched and will run until 2019. Their goal is to promote quality research on the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and to accelerate research and the search for an effective treatment.
Today, research increasingly focuses on ways to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s in the first place. The EPAD project is pioneering a novel, more flexible approach to clinical trials of drugs designed to prevent Alzheimer’s dementia. Using an ‘adaptive’ trial design should deliver better results faster and at lower cost.
Considerable effort has gone into the search for a cure for Alzheimer’s. However, it is now well known that signs of Alzheimer’s disease can be found in the brain decades before the first symptoms appear. Researchers are therefore increasingly focusing their efforts on finding ways of stopping the disease in its tracks during this pre-symptomatic phase to prevent the disease entirely or at least delay the onset of symptoms.
Challenges here include the difficulty of identifying people who are likely to develop Alzheimer’s dementia, our poor understanding of these earliest stages of the disease, and a lack of flexibility in the way clinical trials are carried out.
The EPAD project is addressing these problems in a number of ways. Firstly, it will draw on existing national and regional registers of people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia to create a single, pan-European EPAD register of around 24 000 people. Of these, the 6 000 deemed to be at greatest risk of Alzheimer’s dementia will be invited to join an EPAD cohort of at risk subjects. This group will undergo standardised tests and follow-up. Finally, the project will select around 1 500 people from this EPAD cohort to take part in early stage ‘adaptive’ clinical trials of drugs designed to prevent Alzheimer’s dementia.
The EPAD project does not operate alone. Together with IMI’s EMIF-AD and AETIONOMY projects, it forms the IMI Alzheimer’s disease platform. It is also working closely with other, similar initiatives worldwide, including the US-based Global Alzheimer’s Platform.
In addition, all data collected from the EPAD cohort and trial will be made publicly available for analysis to help researchers everywhere improve their understanding of the early, pre-dementia phase of Alzheimer’s disease.
Ultimately, the hope is that this project will reinvigorate the development of treatments for one of the most challenging diseases facing our ageing societies.
The EPAD website is devoted to inform different audiences including the scientific community, companies, people with dementia, families and carers, Alzheimer associations and the general public, about the project’s existence, its progress and its achievements.
The European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia (EPAD) is a research initiative to improve the understanding of the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and how it leads to dementia. The project provides a platform to investigate new treatments that aim to prevent or delay the onset of clinical symptoms in people at risk of developing the condition. It involves more than 36 organisations across Europe including universities, pharmaceutical companies and patient organizations.
Check out their website here: