Biomarkers Across Neurodegenerative Diseases (BAND) is launching a new funding cycle of nearly $2 million for projects investigating the overlap in the biology and clinical symptoms of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and other brain-deteriorating diseases.
BAND is a joint initiative of the Alzheimer's Association and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research in the U.S., the Weston Brain Institute in Canada and Alzheimer's Research U.K., which joins the collaboration as the program makes available a second round of research grant awards.
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.
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.
"This type of cross-disease analysis may uncover new biological targets for tracking risk, onset or progression of these diseases," said Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., chief science officer for the Alzheimer's Association. "In this way, BAND may help advance discovery of vital new clues for developing treatments."
"Our ongoing participation in the dynamic BAND program 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 now have reached global epidemic proportions," said Alexandra Stewart, executive director, Weston Brain Institute. "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." The Institute's funding will go to grants awarded to Canadian researchers.
"A collaboration such as BAND promotes research efficiency," said Mark Frasier, Ph.D., senior vice president of research programs at the Michael J. Fox Foundation. "Expanding investigation beyond a single diagnosis opens the door to new discoveries, which can only benefit drug development and thereby the millions of patients who need new therapies."
BAND is open to applications from scientists around the globe. The new round of funding will provide up to $150,000 for each two-year research project; it is anticipated that awards will be made in October 2015. More information about how and when to apply for funding through this program is available at www.alz.org/BAND.
The program's inaugural round of $1.3 million in funding was granted in September 2014 to nine projects:
1) Genetics, Biomarkers and Mendelian Randomization to Identify Common Pathway; Carlos Cruchaga, Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis
2) Degeneration of the Human Connectome: Brain Networks in ADNI and PPMI; Gautam Prasad, Ph.D., University of Southern California
3) Subcortical Shape Analysis for Joint Biomarker Discovery; Boris Gutman, Ph.D., University of Southern California
4) Cortical and Functional Distinctions in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease; Swati Rane, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University Medical Center
5) Variations in Brain Functional Complexity Across Neurodegeneration; Norbert Schuff, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
6) Estimating Long-Term Disease Trajectories; Michael Donohue, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
7) Biomarkers for Personalized Treatment of Neurodegenerative Spectrum Disease; Corey McMillan, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
8) Brain Networks as Targets of Neurodegeneration in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's; Alain Dagher, M.D., McGill University
9) Interpreting Disease Heterogeneity in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease; Mallar Chakravarty, Ph.D., Center for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto