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INMIND — Result In Brief

Project ID: 278850
Funded under: FP7-HEALTH
Country: Germany

Improved imaging of neuroinflammation

Patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases (NDs) such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis present with devastating cognitive disabilities. Through the development of novel biomarkers and imaging tools, a large European consortium aims to improve the diagnosis and treatment outcomes for these patients.
Improved imaging of neuroinflammation
One common feature of NDs is the deposition of extracellular or intracellular protein aggregates, which activate microglia — the immune cells of the central nervous system. Microglia are responsible for inflammation-mediated neurotoxicity or neuroregenerative repair, depending on disease stage and cell phenotype (M1 or M2). Microglia may also serve as a marker for disease onset and progression.

The EU-funded 'Imaging of neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative diseases' (INMIND) project is studying the dynamic pattern of microglial activation and its relation to neuroinflammation (NI) in NDs. The 5-year collaborative effort, started in 2012, comprises 28 partner organisations from 13 countries.

Project members are focusing on cellular and in vivo studies to assess NI, neural toxicity and repair at various disease stages. Developing novel animal models and imaging biomarkers to access microglial activity in vivo will be used to validate the outcome of neuroprotective strategies. Non-invasive imaging tools will allow early disease diagnostics, increasing the likelihood of effective intervention.

Two years into the project, INMIND partners have defined targets and standardised procedures for in vitro and in vivo investigations of M1/M2 microglial types. Applied to various pre-clinical and clinical disease models, the developed methods allow disease characterisation and evaluation of pharmacological interventions. In vivo studies addressed the role of sex hormones and gender-specific differences in microglial activation.

Researchers have identified lead compounds potentially suitable for positron emission tomography imaging. These will undergo testing for radiopharmaceutical validity. NI was correlated with histopathological findings, as well as other disease-specific hallmarks such as amyloidosis, astrogliosis, blood–brain barrier permeability, cell density and connectivity. Neuroprotective and neuroregenerative strategies have been initiated in animal models in preparation for a clinical trial.

Long term, the improved imaging technology will aid prompt ND diagnosis and lead to early interventions, personalised patient care and, hopefully, better outcomes.

Related information


Life Sciences


Imaging, neuroinflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, microglia, biomarker
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