Researchers commit nearly US$2m to study the similarities and differences between neurodegenerative diseases

The Biomarkers Across Neurodegenerative Diseases (BAND) programme is a joint initiative between researchers in the US, Canada and UK

Leading funders of research in the US, Canada and the UK are advancing a global funding initiative aimed at understanding the similarities and differences between progressive brain-deteriorating diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, with an expanded partnership and increased funding.

The programme, Biomarkers Across Neurodegenerative Diseases (BAND), is a joint initiative of the Alzheimer’s Association and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in the US, the Weston Brain Institute in Canada, and Alzheimer’s Research UK, which joins the collaboration as the programme makes available a second round of research grant awards.

The new funding cycle will offer nearly US$2m (£1.3m/C$2.5m) for projects investigating the overlap in the biology and clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and other brain-deteriorating diseases, which together affect tens of millions of people worldwide. Projects supported by BAND will compare data across these diseases, including genetic information, brain changes detected through imaging tools including PET and MRI scans, and measures of symptoms such as memory problems or physical tremors.

With growing numbers of people affected by neurodegenerative diseases, investment in research is crucial

Each BAND-funded project must include a clear focus on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, or one of the two, plus another neurodegenerative disease, such as FTD. BAND encourages the use of specific existing data sets on Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and frontotemporal dementia, as well as collaboration among researchers with diverse expertise.

Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: 'Alzheimer’s Research UK is pleased to be joining this initiative, which we hope provides a vital new understanding of Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. With growing numbers of people affected by neurodegenerative diseases, investment in research is crucial if we are to transform people’s lives. Charities have an important role to play in this fight and we are proud to be part of this collaborative effort to boost global research.'

Alexandra Stewart, Executive Director, Weston Brain Institute, added: 'Our ongoing participation in the dynamic BAND programme reflects our unwavering commitment to filling the gaps and accelerating funding for novel approaches to targeted research into these progressive and debilitating brain diseases, which have now reached global epidemic proportions. Our hope is that by better understanding how these diseases overlap, we can guide the development of therapies that are effective in treating not only one, but multiple conditions.'

BAND is open to applications from scientists around the globe. The new round of funding will provide up to $150,000 (£98,000/C$188,225) for each two-year research project; it is anticipated that awards will be made this October.

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