Research funders in the US, Canada and the UK are expanding a global funding initiative to investigate the similarities and differences between different degenerative brain diseases.

The Alzheimer’s Association and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in the US, the Weston Brain Institute in Canada, and newcomer Alzheimer’s Research UK are offering $2 million for a second round of research grant awards under the Biomarkers Across Neurodegenerative Diseases (BAND) programme.

Up to $150,000 of BAND cash will be handed out to promising projects around the globe assessing the overlap in 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. 

Researchers 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.

Efficient research

A collaborative effort such as this promotes research efficiency, says Mark Frasier, who heads up Research Programmes 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,” he noted.

“This type of cross-disease analysis may uncover new biological targets for tracking risk, onset or progression of these diseases. In this way, BAND may help advance discovery of vital new clues for developing treatments,” added Maria Carrillo, chief science officer for the Alzheimer's Association.