Push the envelope
Article: SYNAPSE
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2nd October 2023
SYNAPSE and Alzheimer’s disease
The societal impact of dementia and neurodegenerative (ND) conditions cannot be overstated. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) alone is estimated to affect 7 million people in Europe at present, entailing consequences for individuals, their families, carers and healthcare services. Research is vital in not only identifying effective treatments, but in understanding the complexity of these conditions and the ways in which we can improve the lives of people living with them.

Across its project portfolio, SYNAPSE has maintained a clear focus on the management of research investigating dementia, AD and ND. For nearly over a decade, the team has supported the work of academics, industry partners, regulators, HTAs and patient organisations.

Starting in 2015 with the launch of EPAD, SYNAPSE took a role in managing a paradigm-changing trial delivery system across 31 sites, designed to allow agile comparisons across multiple drug candidates. The working relationship continued with its sister project AMYPAD, which focused on the utility of β-amyloid in the identification and management of AD. Later, ROADMAP approached the issue of identifying and integrating the vast number of data sources associated with AD across myriad outcomes and disease stages. The essence of the project was represented in the ROADMAP DataCube, developed by SYNAPSE.

In light of these ambitious projects and their impact on the research landscape, NEURONET, as coordinated by SYNAPSE, reflected a philosophy of collaboration and connection, with a view to identify gaps in the field and clear opportunities for synergy. By explicitly linking research efforts across the field, NEURONET aimed to break research silos and encourage the cross-communication and dissemination of over 20 different projects. The NEURONET Knowledge Base, developed by SYNAPSE, presented viewers with an interface and dashboard of the IHI ND portfolio, including its tangible outputs via the Asset Map. Similarly, the strong community established in EPAD was connected to NEURONET through its NEURO Cohort, representing 40 research-active sites across Europe who expressed interest in the NEURO Cohort Common Data Model, developed with the same sites as a way of facilitating network research participation and enrolment. Considering the final translation of evidence into potential new treatments, NEURONET also developed the Regulatory and HTA Decision Making Tool to inform and guide ND researchers of the roadmaps that lead from research assets to market access.

At the time of writing, the research landscape anticipates the review and potential approval of new disease-modifying treatments in AD. Here, SYNAPSE continues to provide support, assisting with PROMINENT, which is dedicated to the development and implementation of a precision medicines platform, designed to accommodate new treatments and manage co-morbidities associated with AD. Similarly, SYNAPSE is part of the CLAIMS project, which represents the use of AI-assisted care for people living with multiple sclerosis, again focusing on precision medicine and treatment comparison. Moreover, SYNAPSE is collaborating with the Scottish Brain Health Sciences institution, which aims to introduce a new approach to clinical trial recruitment and public involvement in research.

“The extent to which we can manage AD as a society depends on sustaining research across multiple fronts. From the development of more accurate diagnostic tests, the deployment of digital platforms, new clinical trial infrastructures or better data harmonisation and findability, no effort is wasted, and only serves to build the best environment to introduce, evaluate and monitor effective treatments.” - Lewis Killin (SYNAPSE)

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