What is The European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia project? Craig Ritchie explains.

Co-Chief Investigator EPAD logo

Today is the investigators meeting for the IMI-European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia (EPAD) EPAD project in Edinburgh.

What does this mean?

Well it means that we are about to start probably the largest single project to date specifically to help develop treatments that will prevent Alzheimer’s dementia. In Edinburgh, colleagues join us from across Europe (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Toulouse, Geneva and Stockholm) to train on the protocol for the EPAD Cohort Protocol. This protocol is to create what we call a ‘readiness cohort’ for clinical trials to be run in EPAD. This means that the whole process of testing out new preventative treatments is hugely speeded up.

How are PREVENT and EPAD linked?

The two projects are very closely linked at several levels.

Firstly, for entering the EPAD Cohort people need to be chosen from a series of existing cohorts across Europe like PREVENT. People aren’t chosen because they are at high risk of getting dementia. They are chosen because they will be able to contribute to the huge amount of data, scans, blood and other samples we are going to gather from literally thousands of people across Europe in the years ahead. I sometimes say that EPAD is ‘…like PREVENT on steroids’. EPAD is huge: over 10,000 participants planned, 36 partners, including Alzheimer’s Europe.

All this data – collected to the highest standard – will help us develop disease models for Alzheimer’s disease before dementia develops. These models will then be used to answer questions like:

-What are my chances of getting dementia?

-What treatments would suit me best?

-Can I do anything to change my risk? 

We are also building these models in PREVENT and our partner project ALFA in Barcelona (who are also partners in EPAD) and combining data or making discoveries in one study and replicating it in another are all robust and important ways of driving the science forwards. To do this we need people in all these studies are maybe at high risk, maybe at very low risk and everything in between.

Secondly, the science which has underpinned PREVENT is being used to help develop EPAD. There are literally hundreds of scientists and researchers involved in EPAD and many work across both EPAD and PREVENT. Karen Ritchie, Graciela Muniz-Terrera, Jean Manson and Simon Lovestone all have key roles, and I lead on both projects.

Thirdly, we have already been working with the Ethics team for EPAD from the University of Cambridge  on looking at Risk Disclosure and some of the PREVENT participants helped out in focus groups which is helping to shape the design of EPAD.

For participants in PREVENT we may be asking you if you’d like to join EPAD too. You can be in both studies at the same time. At the moment EPAD is only open in the UK in Edinburgh but it is almost certain it will open in London later this year too.

For our growing number of members, we will be updating all our newsletters about progress with EPAD too given how close together the two projects are and discussing it at our PREVENT Annual Conference being scheduled for late Autumn/early Winter in both London and Edinburgh (watch this space).

If you want to more about EPAD or PREVENT please feel free to contact us and we can explain more about both projects. We are always looking for new members for the PREVENT Project to help us with getting as many participants as we can enrolled. So far we have raised almost £150,000 in less than 6 months. Any donation you can make or ideas for a membership event are gratefully received. 

We will provide regular updates on EPAD and PREVENT on the website but also in our regular newsletters and on twitter @AD-PREVENT and @IMI_EPAD.

Thanks for reading and all your support. We know that we can PREVENT dementia and working together will make that difference.