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Joint R&D 2023: Translating Alzheimer’s molecular biology of cognitive decline to improve diagnostics and therapeutics (BRGRD79)

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative brain disorder that causes dementia and has become the number one cause of death in Belgium. Being able to predict disease onset and rate of cognitive decline is of great clinical (research) importance. As the first disease-modifying therapies for AD are probably on their way to the EU market, there is a clinical urgency for validated biomarkers that can predict cognitive decline.
We hypothesise that cognitive decline is linked to tau pathology and synaptic degeneration. Unfortunately, knowledge is scattered between (university) hospitals, which makes it impossible to find suitable biomarkers. Therefore, we believe that by setting up a clinical-value-driven data-sharing ecosystem between Hôpital Erasme, UcL Saint-Luc and UZ Brussel, which is accessible for the partner universities ULB, UCLouvain and VUB, it is possible to identify these biomarkers that can predict cognitive decline. This platform will allow the exchange of expertise, and the sharing of data to reach critical numbers of patients, but requires several challenging innovative steps. An important step requires the extraction of clinical information from the electronic patient records into a database. Another difficult step will require harmonisation amongst the three hospitals and automation of transfer of data from a local research environment to an interuniversity data-sharing ecosystem. Besides transfer of data, a federated AI-driven learning framework will be embedded in the platform on which researchers should be able to run scripts, for instance to train a machine learning algorithm based on clinical and biomarker data to support a diagnosis, to predict prognosis, and / or to search for novel diagnostic markers as well as therapeutic targets. Also, the data-sharing ecosystem can be applied to other (rare) diseases, and can be licensed to other hospitals, based on future valorisation roadmaps. It offers unique opportunities to discover new diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets for diseases with limited numbers of patients per hospital as well increase the number of clinical trials for the participating hospitals. The platform will also be an unlimited source of future, collaborative R&D projects, which will significantly strengthen the position for achieving future national and EU R&D funding. Last but not least, the proposed research project should position Brussels and its university hospitals as key players for major clinical trials (in AD and by extension, other (even rare) diseases), rendering it a very attractive ecosystem for pharmaceutical companies. The Brussels' vulnerable population like patients with AD and related disorders, will be the first to benefit from these innovative R&D steps through the availability of the newest diagnostic and therapeutic options, being even prevention trials.
Date:1 Aug 2023 →  17 Nov 2023
Keywords:Alzheimer's disease, dementia, biomarker, Amyloid, tau
Disciplines:Machine learning and decision making