Achievements for EMPIR project researching neurogenerative diseases

Image showing a MRI scan of a human head
MRI scan of a human head

EMPIR project developing non-invasive techniques for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s has a number of successful outcomes

The project

Recently completed EMPIR project Innovative measurements for improved diagnosis and management of neurodegenerative diseases (15HLT04, NeuroMET) developed reference measurement procedures to accelerate the uptake of minimal invasive methods for the early diagnosis and monitoring of the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The research explored innovative techniques for early diagnosis and monitoring, based on non-invasive blood and saliva tests, in-vivo magnetic resonance approaches and cognitive assessments.

Project successes

Accurate and early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases is fundamental to enable treatment and increase success of clinical trials by targeting the correct group of patients. Towards this goal outcomes from the project include:

  • A database of blood, saliva, cerebrospinal fluids, magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy diagnostic biomarker data collected from the NeuroMET patient cohort and combined through new mathematical models to help improve the accuracy of Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. The studies carried out in the follow on project Metrology and innovation for early diagnosis and accurate stratification of patients with neurodegenerative diseases (18HLT09, NeuroMET2) will enable further improvement of the methods for early diagnosis and patient stratification. A NeuroMET stakeholder workshop will be held in Berlin in summer 2020 to increase engagement with clinicians and disseminate those findings
  • The NeuroMET consortium worked alongside the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry to standardise measurements of the total-tau protein, a biomarker for diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Particularly the standard from the project is being used within a round robin organised by the IFCC.
  • A method traceable to the International System of Units was developed for quantification of α-synuclein, a potential marker of Parkinson’s disease and a therapeutic target. The method will be used in the EMPIR follow-on project Metrology and innovation for early diagnosis and accurate stratification of patients with neurodegenerative diseases (18HLT09, NeuroMET2) to accelerate the uptake of new technologies in clinical setting for diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Two papers and one book were published on the work carried out by the consortium towards standardisation of patient centred outcome measurement results and improvement of the rating scale used for diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease through cognitive assessments. This with the final aim to improve accuracy in diagnosis particularly at the early stages of the disease. The two papers are in the Journal of Physics and entitled “Patient-Centred Outcome Metrology for Healthcare Decision-Making”  and “Towards consensus measurement standards for patient-centered outcomes“; the  book is entitled “Quality Assured Measurement – Unification across Social and Physical Sciences”. Training courses on ‘Quality assurance of cognitive assessments and other categorical data‘ and ‘The Rasch model theory‘ were also organised to disseminate the improved cognitive assessments and rating scales. About 20 participants from academia and healthcare attended each of the training courses.
  • An abstract entitled ‘Product ratios of metabolite concentration as potential Alzeihmer disease biomarkers‘ was awarded an Magna cum laude award, meaning it was rated among the top 15% out of more than 5000 abstracts, at the 27th Annual Meeting of the  ISMRM (International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine) held in Montreal in May 2019.

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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