The EPAD story

Making the most of a window of opportunity.

There’s compelling evidence that Alzheimer’s disease takes hold in the brain decades before dementia symptoms appear, providing a window of opportunity for preventat intervention.

The European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia (EPAD) consortium was driven by the idea that early, targeted intervention focused on the initial stages of disease would be more effective than efforts to tackle established disease processes.

With gratitude to the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) for funding (2015-2020), EPAD was an interdisciplinary research initiative established to overcome the major hurdles hampering drug development for secondary prevention of dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. It also pioneered a novel, flexible approach to clinical trials.

Additional thanks to Fidelity Bermuda Foundation and Alzheimer’s Association for their support of the EPAD Bioresource.

Collaboration accelerates innovation in dementia research.

We’ve made the data gleaned from our groundbreaking effort accessible to researchers across the globe with the goal of accelerating delivery of new preventative treatments for people at risk of developing dementia.

Our Study

We recruited research participants from over 30 centres across Europe and spent four years gathering robust datasets, bio samples, and a neuroimaging library.

EPAD participants:

  • Were aged 50 or over
  • Had no dementia diagnosis
  • Were willing to consider taking part in clinical trials
  • Were willing to take part in regular study assessments involving memory tests, brain scans and research samples (blood, saliva, spinal fluid and urine tests)
  • Had a friend or relative who knew them well and was willing to be their partner throughout the study
Along the way, EPAD tackled challenges, including:
  • The difficulty of identifying people who are likely to develop Alzheimer’s dementia.
  • The public’s poor understanding of the earliest stages of the disease.
  • A lack of flexibility in the way clinical trials are carried out.
To address these issues, we developed three core strategies to benefit both intervention owners and research participants.

The Register

EPAD created the first single, pan-European register of over half a million people across the risk spectrum for dementia.

The Cohort

From this register, research participants were invited to join an EPAD cohort of at-risk subjects, the Longitudinal Cohort Study (LCS). This group underwent standardised tests and follow-ups over several years.

The Trial

EPAD pioneered a novel, more flexible approach to clinical trials of drugs designed to prevent AD. The LCS was in alignment with a Bayesian adaptive designed proof-of-concept trial intended to deliver better results faster and at lower cost.

The Current EPAD Team

The EPAD team is a ground-breaking European initiative to streamline the testing and development of preventative treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

Prof. Craig Ritchie

Chief Investigator

Prof. Jean Manson

Principal Investigator

Cindy Birck

Communications Manager

Josie Butchart

Bioresource Manager

Georgios Ntailianis

Data Manager

Frederik Barkhof

Imaging Head of Study

Luigi Lorenzini

Imaging Scientific Assessor and Manager

Alle Meije Wink

Imaging Data and Technical Manager

The IMI Team

EPAD was part of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), the world’s biggest public-private partnership in life sciences. IMI is a joint undertaking between the European Union and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, EFPIA.

Serge Van der Geyten

Project Coordinator

Serge Van der Geyten earned a PhD in Sciences and Biology from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. Prior to joining Janssen, he worked for eight years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Serge joined Janssen Pharmaceutica in January 2006 in the Beerse Early Development Medical Writing group. In mid 2014, he accepted a position as Director in the Neuroscience department to lead the IMI EPAD project and ensure its timely delivery.

Prof. Craig Ritchie

Project Co cordinator

Craig Ritchie is an internationally renowned researcher in the field of dementia with a reputation for the design and prosecution of dementia clinical trials, epidemiology of mid-life risk and diagnostic tests. He’s been Principal Investigator in almost 30 commercial trials in AD, National Chief Investigator in 15 in the UK and Global Coordinating Investigator on six. Craig’s skills, credibility and leadership experience made him the ideal person to lead EPAD.

Our Partners

The largest ever public-private partnership in Alzheimer’s disease research, EPAD combined knowledge and expertise from 39 European organisations across multiple sectors, to bring a wealth of experience to our efforts.

EPAD Participant Panel

Public involvement is increasingly recognised for the practical benefits it contributes to the research process. It’s also important in establishing an ongoing relationship with research participants to reciprocate their contribution and interest in the study.

Further, it helps establish accountability and transparency between the study goals and population by providing an opportunity for researchers to respond to participants’ concerns. This all leads to higher-quality research with greater impact.

With EPAD, we established the Research Participant Panel in which we built a conversation with our participants and gave them an active role in influencing the design, conduct, and reporting of research. Our participants were our partners in this project too.

Through sharing our work, we hope to improve and accelerate
treatment options for Alzheimer’s and related diseases.

Discover the latest EPAD news and publications.

  • Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology

    “Alzheimer’s Disease and Small Vessel Disease Differentially Affect White Matter Microstructure” Authors: Mario Tranfa, Luigi Lorenzini, Lyduine E. Collij, David Vállez García, Silvia Ingala, Giuseppe Pontillo, Leonard Pieperhoff, Alessio Maranzano, Robin Wolz, Sven Haller, Kaj Blennow, Giovanni Frisoni, Carole H. Sudre, Gael Chételat, Michael Ewers, Pierre Payoux, Adam Waldman, Pablo Martinez-Lage, Adam J. Schwarz, Craig W. Ritchie, Joanna M. Wardlaw, Juan Domingo Gispert, Arturo Brunetti, Henk J. M. M. Mutsaerts, Alle Meije Wink, Frederik Barkhof Abstract: Objective: Alzheimer’s disease (AD)…

    Read more: Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology

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