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. Among these, Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder, affecting an estimated 7-10 million people worldwide and over 1000 individuals in Luxembourg. Therefore, PD has been chosen as a proof-of-concept template for applied biomedical research in Luxembourg that will translate into novel neuroprotective therapies for PD. Luxembourg stakeholders, including the National Research Fund (FNR), have invested great effort over the past decade in the implementation of a strategic initiative 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, to promote translational research on PD.
With its relatively young research and innovation experience, Luxembourg highly benefits from the expertise of excellent European research peers. CENTRE-PD aims at TWINNING the Universities of Oxford (UOXF) and Tübingen (EKUT), two worldwide leading centres for clinical and fundamental research in PD, with the UL to strengthen ongoing research and health care advancements and establish a comprehensive clinical centre for diagnosis and treatment of PD in Luxembourg. CENTRE-PD will achieve the latter through the transfer of skills and knowledge from internationally leading European counterparts from the University of Oxford and University of Tübingen to the Luxembourg counterparts at the University of Luxembourg, within the National Centre of Excellence in Research on Parkinson's Disease and beyond.
Scientifically, CENTRE-PD will be focusing on the key elements of clinical PD research:
1. Research through patient cohorts
- Harmonisation of clinical assessments and data acquisition
- Genetic characterisation and stratification
- Prospective PD patients and at risk individuals
- Device-based assessments of disease parameters
- Gait laboratory
- Advanced stem cell technologies
- Neurostimulation therapies
4. Establishment of research infrastructures
- Brain banking
- Stem cell automation platforms
- joint education and training programme for young researchers and movement disorders neurologists
The CENTRE-PD project will strengthen the potential for future collaborations nationally and beyond borders, boosting research excellence in Luxembourg and providing better access to diagnostics and therapies. Moreover, the lessons learnt during the implementation of CENTRE-PD in the context of PD, will be of great value in the subsequent application to other socioeconomically relevant diseases in Luxembourg.