April 2023 marked the launch of the NEXGEN-PD research initiative. Consisting of researchers from Austria, Hungary, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, the NEXGEN consortium has launched an exciting new research project aimed at combating the growing threat of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Currently, PD cannot be cured or diagnosed early, yet debilitates the lives of many. Over 8.5 million individuals suffer from PD, enduring poorer quality of life, challenging social interactions, and great financial burdens. These numbers continue to grow rapidly, and it is well agreed by scientists that diagnosing and treating PD early, before irreversible brain damage occurs, will be the most effective approach going forward.
NEXGEN consists of two interlinked lines of research, to develop a new diagnostic assay that can detect PD early using only blood and/or urine samples, and to develop a new vaccine platform to halt PD progression. Combined, these two outcomes promise a revolution in the management of PD. At-risk individuals could be routinely assessed with the assay by their local doctor to catch the onset of PD early. Once caught, a series of new and extraordinarily effective vaccines would prevent PD from developing any further and alleviate existing symptoms.
NEXGEN will take a unique approach in both these lines of research:
For earlier diagnosis, NEXGEN will investigate unstudied proteins that were recently discovered by NEXGEN partner Paracelsus Medical University. These proteins are carried on the outside of particles found in the blood, and may hold the secret to early diagnosis of PD. The only way currently to diagnose PD from such proteins requires extremely invasive spinal tap. NEXGEN is working to develop a simple non-invasive alternative using blood and/or urine, to achieve the same reliable results as spinal taps, bringing early diagnosis to those who need it.
For more effective treatment, NEXGEN introduces the novel WISIT vaccine platform, developed by NEXGEN coordinator Tridem Bioscience. WISIT vaccines are uniquely formulated for delivery into the skin, where there are many potent immune cells that are bypassed by traditional delivery routes into muscle. The unique formulation makes the WISIT vaccine extraordinarily effective at generating immune responses, making them perfect for treating non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as PD. NCDs lack highly reactive targets like bacteria and viruses, making them traditionally very difficult to tackle using vaccines. NEXGEN heralds the next generation of vaccines for a wide range of NCDs, including other neurological diseases, cardiovascular disorders, and dermatological disease. WISIT’s debut for treating PD is just the beginning of a new era in treating yet untreatable diseases.
For further details and to follow the work progress, please visit the NEXGEN-PD website
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NEXGEN-PD has received €6 million in funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe Framework Programme under grant agreement No 101080267.
UK participants (MODUS) in the Horizon Europe Project NEXGEN-PD are supported by UKRI grant numbers 10064393.
Coordinated by Tridem Bioscience GmbH & CoKG, the NEXGEN-PD consortium includes members from: