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Partnering Across Brain Diseases toward New Tests and Therapies

Partnering Across Brain Diseases toward New Tests and Therapies

The Michael J Fox Foundation (MJFF) is partnering with three leading funders of brain disease research to uncover similarities and differences across brain diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Our shared goal is to increase understanding of the similarities and differences between neurodegenerative diseases to develop better diagnostic tools and possible treatments.

The program, Biomarkers Across Neurodegenerative Diseases (BAND), launched in 2014 and is a joint initiative of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) and the Alzheimer's Association in the United States, the Weston Brain Institute in Canada, and Alzheimer's Research UK in the United Kingdom.

"Better defining similarities and differences across conditions can help us measure and treat brain disorders based more on an individual's biology rather than on an umbrella diagnosis. The BAND program unites our organizations and leverages our previous investments toward better care and ultimately cures for brain diseases," said Todd Sherer, PhD, MJFF CEO.

The partners are accepting funding applications for projects comparing Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other brain-deteriorating diseases such as Lewy body dementia or progressive supranuclear palsy, which together affect tens of millions of people worldwide.

The first two rounds of BAND funding have already directed more than $3 million to 20 research projects. Highlights follow:

  • Experts at University College London are using imaging data to develop models of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease to define underlying disease mechanisms.
  • A team at the Carlo Besta Neurological Institute in Italy is evaluating markers in the olfactory mucous membrane -- smell loss is an early symptom of brain disease, and changes are seen in the olfactory bulb -- to differentiate between dementia types.
  • Researchers at McGill University in Montreal are creating maps of brain shrinkage from MRI scans to investigate the spread of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease along brain networks, which may point to biomarker candidates or therapeutic targets. 
  • Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania are investigating whether Alzheimer's-associated genetic mutations present in people with Parkinson's can predict their rate of cognitive decline.

More information about the BAND program and funding application details are available at

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