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TWINNING for a Comprehensive Clinical Centre for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Parkinson's Disease

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CENTRE-PD (TWINNING for a Comprehensive Clinical Centre for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Parkinson's Disease)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2019-02-28

The economic burden of brain disorders within the European Union is approximately 800 billion euros annually, indicating a major need for brain research to improve diagnosis and treatment and for training medical doctors and healthcare professionals to better care for patients. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative movement disorder. Therefore, PD was chosen as a proof-of-concept template for applied biomedical research in Luxembourg, that would translate into novel neuroprotective therapies for PD. To promote translational research on PD, Luxembourg stakeholders, including the National Research Fund (FNR), invested great effort over the past decade into the implementation of a strategic initiative. This initiative was between the University of Luxembourg (UL) and institutional stakeholders from the integrated Biobank of Luxembourg, the Luxembourg Institute of Health, and the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg,
Luxembourg benefited largely from the expertise of excellent European research peers within the CENTRE-PD (http://www.centre-pd.eu) project. It twinned the UL with the Universities of Oxford (UOXF) and Tübingen (EKUT), to strengthen ongoing research and health care advancements for a comprehensive clinical centre for diagnosis and treatment of PD in Luxembourg. The CENTRE-PD project contributed positively to this goal with transfer of skills and knowledge from UOXF (http://opdc.medsci.ox.ac.uk) and EKUT (https://www.hih-tuebingen.de) to UL.
The overall objectives of the project included:
(1) Supporting the development of a research clinical centre for PD patients in Luxembourg (including a prospective PD patient cohort and at-risk cohort for PD, a brain bank, neuro-imaging and stem-cell research platforms, a neuro-stimulation centre and gait laboratory)
(2) Launching of joint collaborations for future research initiatives (harmonised clinical datasets and neuropathological validation, joint biomarker studies for early diagnosis and stratification of PD, compound screening campaigns on patient-based cellular models, and joint studies on neuro-modulation)
(3) Engaging key stakeholders through clinical and public outreach programmes, a joint education and training programme for clinician scientists and researchers, partnerships with industry and initiatives for patient engagement.
The CENTRE-PD project supported successfully the above goals, boosted research excellence in Luxembourg, and provided knowledge to implement better diagnostics and therapies for PD in Luxembourg. The lessons learnt during the implementation of CENTRE-PD in the context of PD, were of great value for the transfer of clinical research culture in Luxembourg.
The CENTRE-PD project allowed clinical and research staff from the three CENTRE-PD sites to exchange their expert skills and knowledge to advance PD research, diagnosis and treatment in Luxembourg.
Luxembourg established a successful PD patient cohort with more than 1300 participants, which has been recognized both at national and international level. The activities developed within the CENTRE-PD (staff-exchanges, training sessions, meetings) contributed to this achievement. The harmonization of data, within this project, led to four collaborations among the three centres: Beck’s Depression Inventory (BDI), Top 10 Research Priorities, Functional Activities Questionnaire (FAQ), NeuroChip.
CENTRE-PD project gave a real boost to achieve the key objectives for the excellence of PD clinical research in Luxembourg. Thanks to CENTRE-PD staff-exchange activities and trainings, UL took the first steps for a Luxembourg neuro-imaging platform. In relation to the brain bank, the protocol for donations has been approved and all hospital groups in Luxembourg are linked to the pathology centre at Laboratoire National de Santé of Luxembourg. The brain bank is ready to start its activities in Luxembourg and further collaboration with UOXF and EKUT is foreseen.
The CENTRE-PD project organized and delivered thematic trainings and staff exchanges, utilising the longstanding expertise of EKUT and UOXF. All members of the Luxembourg team - physicians, nurses, project managers and researchers - benefited from the transfer of knowledge and expertise. The trainings and workshop organised included:
22 trainings focused on:
-Retention strategies in longitudinal studies workshop
-Diagnostic Criteria for cognitive impairment in PD – State of the Art
-Data driven strategies to define cognitive diagnostic and progression markers in PD
-Good Clinical Practice Training- Module 1 and Module 2
-Genetics of PD Workshop
-Gene Editing in iPSCs for Modelling Neurodegeneration
-DBS Workshop and Observerships
-Continuous therapies for advanced stages of PD
-Prodromal cohorts (3 workshops)
-Data Harmonisation
-DBS and Neuroimaging (3 workshops)
-Screenable Phenotypes
-Device Based Assessments (2 workshops)
-Brain banking (2 workshops)
-NeuroChip
•14 Staff exchanges
-Neuroimaging at UOXF (2 exchanges)
-Sleep medicine training at UOXF (1 exchange)
-Molecular biology and iPSC-related at EKUT (1 exchange)
-Differentiating and culturing iPS-macrophages at UOXF (3 exchanges)
-Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) at EKUT (1 exchange)
-Signal analysis and deep learning for DBS at UL (2 exchanges)
-Movement Disorders at UOXF (1 exchange)
-Movement Disorder Curriculum at EKUT (1 exchange)
-REDCap at UL (1 exchange)
-Pathophysiological mechanisms at UL (1 exchange)
The CENTRE-PD project has had a big impact also on study protocols thanks to the sharing of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) from EKUT and UOXF to UL.
The CENTRE-PD project has increased the research profile of the Luxembourgish partners (UL, LCSB, CHL, LIH, IBBL) in several key areas of fundamental and clinical research on PD, beyond the scope of the project itself. It affected positively the success of several initiatives:
At National Level
-The implementation of clinical and translational research at the LCSB/UL: creation of a department which includes fundamental and clinical research on neurodegenerative disease, with focus on PD.
-Implementation of a physician scientists track in Luxembourg, supported by the national research funding agency (FNR) and the Ministry of Health and creation of the legal framework between the UL and the CHL: there are 3 Physician-Scientists at LCSB working on PD who are working both on biomedical research and clinical practice: from bench to bedside.
-Implementation of a patient-centred approach to PD treatment and awareness raising on dementia in elderly citizens via ParkisonNet Luxembourg (www.parkinson.lu) and programme démence prevention (http://sante.public.lu/fr/prevention/demence/index.html) programmes.
At International Level
-PARK-QC- is an interdisciplinary doctoral training unit (DTU) funded by the FNR PRIDE programme. The DTU involves the LCSB, the Life Sciences Research Unit (LSRU), the LIH and the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL). It attracted researchers from all over the word. It has hired already 18 young researchers from several countries.
-Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND): the LCSB submitted 2 JPND. One with the partners of the CENTRE-PD consortium on fundamental research and another one with a different consortium.
-Introduction of new health-care strategies in Luxembourg: EIT Health network affiliation (December 2018); The implementation of ParkinsonNet Luxembourg (March 2018)