EMPIR Neurodegeneration

Neurodegeneration is an incurable, debilitating process which presents a growing global challenge due to our ageing population.

The European-funded (EMPIR) project NeuroMET is developing a clinical and measurement (metrology) framework to improve the accuracy of neurodegenerative diseases (NDD) measurements and address patient needs. This will be achieved through the development of diagnostic protocols, reference methods and patient centre outcome measures developed for the first time in conjunction with clinical laboratory data.

Ultimately, this framework will help improve accuracy of diagnosis, lead to effective treatment and improve patient management.

NeuroMET is working closely with clinical laboratories, hospitals and biopharmaceutical companies to ensure the effective exploitation of this project for the benefit of patients.

The background

Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are two of the most common neurodegenerative diseases that both involve the build-up of specific proteins in the brain and the destruction of brain cells. This leads to physical and mental impairment such as dementia, a condition that affects over 46 million people globally and costs around $800 billion per year in social and medical care. This represents a significant and growing problem for health care systems.

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are essential for the success of their treatment and potential cure. However, there are currently no minimally invasive diagnostic tools which enable early diagnosis or effective monitoring of the progression of the disease within patients.

The project

NeuroMET aims to develop minimally and non-invasive methods that could potentially be applied for early diagnosis of NDD. These methods will be used to characterise the two patient cohorts recruited as part of the project.

These cohorts will serve to develop and apply:

  • magnetic resonance (MR) approaches to improve Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis through reduced measurement uncertainty
  • methods to improve sensitivity and accuracy of immunoassays to enable detection of biomarkers in blood (Aβ40/42, tau, neurofilament) and saliva (α-synuclein)
  • biomolecular methods (dPCR) for promising novel miRNA biomarkers to evaluate their potential diagnostic value for NDD
  • reference measurement procedures to improve standardisation of established  biomarkers (tau) and targets for novel therapeutics (α-synuclein)
  • feasibility study on the potential of monitoring a stress biomarker (cortisol) in Parkinson’s disease patients
  • clinical assessment questionnaires to improve diagnostic accuracy for Alzheimer’s disease and develop patient centred outcome measures (PCOM) for neurodegenerative diseases based on clinical data
  • multimodal statistical analysis approaches to identify the most promising markers of disease progression and develop PCOM

See the project summary poster for further information.

The consortium

The consortium delivering NeuroMET brings together 9 partners from 5 countries across the EC with support from Parkinson’s UK and the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry (IFCC).

It includes:

  • five National Measurements Institutes/Designated Institutes (LGC, INRIM, LNE, PTB, SP)
  • two universities (UCL, UEA)
  • two hospitals (Charité, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Montpellier)