EPAD - European Prevention of Alzheimer's Dementia

European Prevention of Alzheimer's Dementia

- Newsletter August 2019 -

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Welcome

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I have recently taken to reading books on Quantum Physics – thoroughly recommended. Many things strike me about the history of this subject, the philosophical discourses and the ever-increasing understanding of the sub-atomic world and the application of this to our everyday existence. What illuminates this subject are theoretical models and then careful experimentation. What underpins this though is a series of physicists who have been disruptive, not accepted dogma established on a Newtonian foundation and principally have driven their inquisition by a deep and fundamental belief that we don’t have a clue what is going on and a need to ‘science the s**t out of this’... (Matt Damon: 'The Martian')

If we were to quantify how much we ‘know’ about Alzheimer’s disease in 2019 I would argue that we know a lot less than we could know and maybe even less than of what we should know we made some different decisions over the last 30 years. This knowledge gap can only be filled if we take as our starting point a willingness to accept those massive gaps in our knowledge. Of course, we designed the cohort study with a curation of the existing knowledge about biomarkers, cognition, genetics and imaging but we designed it in such a way that we could do more than just reconfirm previous hypotheses but have the capacity to explore new ideas and thinking. A good illustration of this is the EPAD BioRepository – over 95% of all the samples collected is waiting patiently to be analysed – a tiny fragment goes away for the analysis of the 20th century biomarkers/risk gene of amyloid, tau and ApoE.

I certainly picked up in Geneva where we had our EPAD General Assembly meeting (and more so as a consequence of the survey) that this willingness of the researchers (especially the early career researchers) to disrupt the consensus that has not yielded any recent therapeutic progress was tangible and even at times quite emotional. The experiments we undertake need to be as perfect as possible, the data as well curated as is feasible and the analysis as easy and as innovative as we can make it with all we now are capable of with advanced information systems.

We face challenging times implementing EPAD 2.0 on the (desperate) backdrop (for some of us) of BREXIT – but on the basis of the survey and hard work of Work Package 7’s task forces we have a feasible, fundable and exciting model to be implemented in the months ahead. As I write this, though, we still do not have confirmation of a 6 month no cost extension and I know this is causing huge uncertainty and worry with people working in partner organisations who have been issued 6-month notices on their contracts. It seems incredible that with the undoubted value we and EPAD are poised to offer the scientific community that the project could still be facing such an existential threat! The sustainability plan being put in place will ensure that the project is not as at risk in the future with a lot fewer interdependencies.

I think what we have learnt is that whilst our cohort is both the glue that holds the consortium and the primary source of data for the modelling referred to already, we are also bound by the PoC (which will start next year), the TDC network and the Academy (l’Academie from 2020) all elements that will find their own momentum in the future. Before Geneva there was a sense that we needed to pull back on EPAD’s offer because of funding. However, maybe we were being simply too pessimistic. Feedback and observations from across the funding landscape (commercial, public and philanthropic) have generated once more a massive sense of value and opportunity as yet unrealised within EPAD. After Geneva – the mood was one of expansion of the programme and no longer of cutting back to a bare bones to be (only) ready for the PoC.

All is well. Today I signed the contract for the venue of the 2020 EPAD General Assembly in Edinburgh (May 27th to 29th 2020). Toulouse have already committed to hosting the 2021 General Assembly, the first of EPAD 2.0. We have over 20 analyses being undertaken on the v500.0 dataset with v1,500.0 due for release later in the Autumn. We opened 5 sites in the last few weeks and know that 30 will be open by the end of the year. We will then surpass the 2,000 figure for recruitment before the end of the year. We have a solid plan in place to ensure EPAD is not collateral damage in the massive Brexit car crash. All is well.

CERN was established in 1954 and most recently after years of numerous scientific achievements in 2013 Englert and Higgs were awarded the Nobel Prize the year before the Higgs boson was found by their experimentation. In 1954 no scientist could have predicted the scientific explosion in physics we have witnessed in the last 10 years, but they certainly were willing to lay the foundation for it. None of us should ever under estimate the potential value of EPAD or indeed the infancy of this massive European endeavour. None of us should assume we know the future nor design something that stops us getting there.

This electronic newsletter will be published quarterly and be accessible via the EPAD website (http://ep-ad.org/) and inform the Alzheimer’s community on EPAD’s main achievements, upcoming events as well as allow you to meet the scientists who make it all happen.

We hope you enjoy this issue of the EPAD newsletter! Happy Reading!

Craig Ritchie

EPAD Co-Coordinator

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EPAD exhibits at AAIC

Q2 2019 Highlights

EPAD exhibits at AAIC

Members of the EPAD team attended the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) held on 14-18 July. They travelled to Los Angeles (US) from across Europe for the biggest event in dementia research. The event featured a number of key symposia, focused topic sessions and poster presentations and highlighted significant progress, results and theories that will help bring the world closer to …

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The Story behind the Picture

The EPAD project holds its General Assembly meeting in Geneva

From 15-17 May 2019, the EPAD project hosted its annual General Assembly meeting in Geneva (Switzerland). We were delighted that the event brought together EPAD delegates to discuss progress, latest developments and future plans. In attendance were scientists, researchers, representatives from pharmaceutical companies, patient organisations, SMEs, EPAD study site members, other experts and research participants from across many different countries, …

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Meet the EPAD team

Interview with Christine Trombert

Interview with Christine Trombert

What is your current role in EPAD? Within the Geneva University, I act as a project manager for both EPAD and the AMYPAD Prognostic Natural History Study (PNHS). This includes all the tasks incumbent to this function, ranging from the submissions to the Ethics committee, the follow up of the speed of recruitment, the identification of some deviations and the proposal and implementation …

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Interview with Mauro Sousa

Interview with Mauro Sousa

What is your current role in EPAD?  I am a Project Manager at IXICO plc, and I manage the delivery of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) analysis results on EPAD Longitudinal Cohort Study. IXICO data analysis algorithms quantitatively analyse brain scans, to maximise the information extracted and increase chances of detecting therapy-induced changes in clinical trials. IXICO's artificial intelligence data analytics …

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EPAD design

EPAD presents @

• EPAD Scottish Conference, 22 August, Aberdeen (UK)

• Alzheimer Europe conference, 23-25 October, The Hague (Netherlands).

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Quarterly Quote

“Everybody has a story. And there is something to be learned from every experience.”

- Oprah Winfrey -

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