Bonn, December 2nd, 2011. On Monday, 28th of November, the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) held its first “Industry Day.” The event aimed to showcase the work of the recently founded DZNE and discuss potential areas of cooperation with industry representatives. “We must work together to develop effective therapies and better diagnosis procedures. The discussions showed that beyond maintaining our existing partnerships, we need to collaborate with industry in new ways,” said Professor Pierluigi Nicotera, the Scientific Director and Chairman of the executive board of DZNE.
DZNE’s comprehensive and translational approach to research, which combines fundamental and clinical research with population and health care studies, is unique in Germany. Working closely with universities, university clinics, and other research institutions, DZNE maintains research locations in Berlin (2012), Bonn, Dresden, Göttingen, Magdeburg, Munich, Rostock/Greifswald, Tübingen, and Witten.
At the first DZNE Industry Day, scientists from all DZNE locations presented their research to representatives from Astra-Zeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Grünenthal, the Institut de Recherches Servier, Merck Serono, Miltenyi Biotec, Philips, Siemens, and UCB. Key research goals at DZNE include discovering new tools for therapeutic intervention and diagnosis, identifying genetic and environmental risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases, and investigating the effects of mental and physical activities on the brain. Furthermore, researchers in the area of health care research are working to develop new strategies for assisting individuals suffering from neurological disorders and for providing support to their care givers.
In their discussions, researchers and industry representatives showed themselves eager to undertake projects in which multiple partners work together on specific issues also at the precompetitive level. “We were in agreement that the research findings of scientists working at university, industry, or other research establishments must be made more directly comparable. This area offers important opportunities because greater comparability ultimately allows us to get laboratory results to patients more quickly,” Nicotera said. Since its founding, DZNE has already brought forward the COEN initiative, which aims to standardize scientific methods and protocols in order to enhance data comparability. DZNE has implemented the initiative at all of its research locations and in cooperation with various international partners.
The researchers and industry representatives also agreed that preclinical and, most importantly, clinical research must be accelerated in the near term. “We need to investigate earlier whether a substance that is effective in a model organism can also be used to treat humans; we need to validate the effectiveness of new therapeutic methods much more rapidly than in the past ,” Professor Thomas Klockgether, Director of Clinical Sciences at DZNE, said. “For this to occur, the regulations governing clinical studies must be revised for the field of neurodegenerative disease. We are aiming to foster closer cooperation between research institutes and industry partners, on the one hand, and government agencies in Europe and Germany, on the other. Clinical investigation of drug effectiveness in the early stages of a neurodegenerative disease is crucial if the harmful effects of the illness are to be arrested at all. We also need to identify better endpoints for clinical studies.” One approach being used at DZNE to advance these goals is the development of new imaging technologies that allow the early and more precise examination of diseased areas of the brain.
DZNE plans to hold further symposia in 2012 to explore possible areas of cooperation in greater depth, including the validation of new endpoints for clinical studies and the revision of regulatory requirements for clinical studies dealing with neurodegenerative diseases.
German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)
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