Highly Promising Dutch Research Into Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease

LEIDEN, The Netherlands, December 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Top Institute Pharma presents a new and highly promising research project. The TI Pharma project is a large-scale study into the brain material of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients, who gave permission to the Netherlands Brain Bank for their tissue to be used for scientific research. The analysis is a continuation of highly-promising results from previous studies and focuses on the genes that could be involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. The study - that must form the basis for potential drugs - is one of the largest to be carried out on an international level.

The project is being realized in cooperation with Solvay Pharmaceuticals B.V., DNage B.V., the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, the Netherlands Brain Bank, VU University Amsterdam, VU Medical Center, the Leiden University Medical Center, Utrecht University, University Medical Center Utrecht and the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam.

It is a follow-up to previous studies carried out by two public-private partnerships: that between Solvay Pharmaceuticals, the Netherlands Brain Bank and the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience on the one hand, and DNage and the Erasmus Medical Center on the other. The highly promising results from both studies were the reason why TI Pharma opted for a large-scale project.

Principle investigator Joost Verhaagen of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience: "This study is unique in several aspects. Never before has such a large-scale study been carried out into Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Moreover, we have been able to do research on people who did not yet know they had Alzheimer's disease or in whom the disease was only just starting. We can therefore follow the very first changes due to the disease as well as its progression. And that is also unique."

Additionally, this study is using rapidly-aging mouse models from DNage, in which Alzheimer and Parkinson like symptoms spontaneously occur. Following this neurodegeneration is also an interesting part of the study. Verhaagen: "We expect that this study will also yield new insights into the development of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease and that it could therefore form the basis for potential drugs."

Daan Crommelin and Victor Nickolson, scientific director and general director of TI Pharma respectively, are pleased that the top institute has this project under its wings. "TI Pharma has successfully consolidated the available strengths: companies, knowledge institutes and universities are now working together. Thanks to this partnership research results will be obtained far more quickly. And important steps can be made towards new drugs."

Alzheimer's disease is the most prevalent variant of dementia. Two-thirds of all patients who are demented suffer from Alzheimer's disease. The disease is characterized by a progressive deterioration of the psychological functioning. Alzheimer's disease usually starts at somewhere between 70 and 80 years of age, but can also start at a much younger age. It is estimated that some 24 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer's disease. There are 250,000 Alzheimer's patients in the Netherlands. Over the next few decades this number will double as a result of the aging population.

Parkinson's disease mostly begins at an older age of between 50 and 60 years. However, about 10% of the patients are younger than 40 years. Parkinson's disease is mainly characterized by a progressive disruption of the locomotor system that gravely affects the daily lives of patients and can be debilitating. The disease arises as a result of nervous cells in the midbrain dying. The cause of the disease is (still) not known and therefore prevention and cure are not possible.

About TI Pharma

Within TI Pharma, consortia of industrial and academic research teams conduct groundbreaking, cross-disciplinary research projects that fit into the Priority Medicines program of the WHO. Each year, the Dutch government funds the top institute to a tune of 30 million Euros. The pharmaceutical industry and academia each contribute an additional 15 million Euros per year. TI Pharma is becoming an international leader in (bio)pharmaceutical research, training and education. TI Pharma's fellows are trained in understanding the intricacies of the entire drug R&D process. See http://www.tipharma.com.

About Solvay Pharmaceuticals B.V.

Solvay Pharmaceiticals B.V. is a research-driven group of companies that constitute the global pharmaceutical business of the Solvay Group. The company seeks to fulfill carefully selected unmet medical needs in the therapeutic areas of cardio-metabolic, neuroscience, influenza vaccines, gastroenterology, specialized markets and men's and women's health. Its 2006 sales were EUR 2.6 billion and it employs approximately 10,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.solvaypharmaceuticals.com. Solvay Pharmaceuticals B.V. is active in the Netherlands and employs about 1,300 people.

About DNage B.V.

DNage is a subsidiary of Pharming Group NV, a biotech company focusing on the development of innovative products for the treatment of genetic disorders and ageing diseases. Pharming's Market Authorization Application for lead product Rhucin(R) for treatment of acute attacks of Hereditary Angioedema is under review with the EMEA. The advanced technologies of Pharming include innovative platforms for the production of protein therapeutics, technology and processes for the purification and formulation of these products, as well as technologies in the field of tissue repair via its collaboration with NovaThera and DNA repair via DNage. Additional information is available on: http://www.pharming.com and http;//www.dnage.nl.

About the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN)

The Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN) carries out fundamental neuroscience research with special emphasis on the brain and the visual system.

The research is multidisciplinary and comprises various levels of biological complexity:

- genetic and molecular approaches

- cellular approaches and network function

- system approaches

The research is aimed at fundamental mechanisms, the development of normal functioning, the cause of disorders, and the development of diagnostic and therapeutic strategies

About the Netherlands Brain Bank (NBB): http:/www.brainbank.nl

The NBB is a department of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience and considered worldwide as an excellent brain bank performing rapid autopsies with impressively short post mortem delays of donors that gave informed consent for the use of their brain and clinical files for research. Since its start in 1985, the NBB has provided tissue from 2806 autopsies of which 700 Alzheimer's disease, 124 Parkinson's disease, 1000 controls and 1100 other diseases to 400 research projects all over the world, resulting in 600 papers. The NBB has 2000 registered donors.

About Leiden University Medical Center

Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) is strongly committed to the advancement of health care, through research and innovation. In particular, the focus is on translational research, with the overall aim to accelerate findings from the laboratory to clinical application, and to the market. LUMC has a reputation as a pioneering institute, both nationally and internationally.

Over het Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS)

The Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS) was established in 1992 and is the research division of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Science Faculty, Utrecht University.

Its mission: To carry out high-quality fundamental research in the pharmaceutical sciences. Specifically, to perform conceptual research focused on the discovery, development, and use of drugs. In addition, within UIPS, research scientists are trained in the field of the pharmaceutical sciences. The total research capacity at UIPS in 2006 is 111.4 fte. In 2006 123 (59.4 fte) PhD students were employed within UIPS. Total budget in 2005 was : EUR 11,2 million; 1st flow + 2nd flow + contract funding. Funding for equipment in 2006 amounts to EUR 3.0 million.

About Utrecht University

Utrecht University is one of Europe's leading research universities recognised internationally for its high-quality approach to both research and teaching. Founded in 1636, Utrecht University has always focused strongly on research. Thanks to its solid basis in discipline-based scholarship, it is at the forefront of developments in interdisciplinary knowledge in fields ranging from biochemistry and biophysics to human rights and cultural studies. Utrecht University holds the 42nd position in the Shanghai rankings (http://ed.sjtu.edu.cn/ranking.htm) of the world's top universities. With this position Utrecht is ranked number one in the Netherlands and seventh in Europe. For further information, visit: http://www.uu.nl.

About the University Medical Center Utrecht

The University Medical Center Utrecht was founded in 1999, as the result of the merger of the University Hospital, the Wilhelmina Children's Hospital and the Medical Faculty of Utrecht University. With a tradition that stretches back for more than 180 years, it has an outstanding reputation in research, patient care, and education and training. UMC Utrecht employs a total of 9,238 people, disposes of 1,042 beds, has 350,000 outpatient visits and 26,244 admissions a year. For further information, visit: http://www.umcutrecht.nl/overumcutrecht/missie_en_strategie.

About Erasmus MC

Erasmus MC (University Medical Center Rotterdam) is among the top research institutes in the Netherlands. Research activities range from fundamental biomedical research, patient-related research and epidemiology to public health, health care policy and management. As the largest university medical center in the Netherlands, with 1,800 students of medicine, 1,500 staff members and more than 10,000 employees, Erasmus MC provides advanced medical care to 3 million people living in the southwestern part of the Netherlands. For further information, visit: www.erasmusmc.nl.

About VU University Amsterdam

VU University Amsterdam brings with its excellent educational and research programs together talents in a wide range of disciplines from many different countries. For VU University Amsterdam academic endeavor is more valuable when it makes a contribution to our world. For further information, visit: http://www.vuamsterdam.com//home/index.cfm .

About VU University Medical Center

The academic nature of VU University Medical Center is reflected in the assistance offered to those suffering from rare diseases and to patients who require intensive and complex care, in the form of tertiary clinical care and tertiary referral-center care. Scientific research and patient care are based on five pivotal points, including patient care, training, educational programs and research. The major feature is that various departments and units participate in the pivotal points. The lines of scientific research within each of the pivotal points are brought together in a multidisciplinary research institute. The pivotal points and associated research institutes in VU University Medical Center are: O cancer and immunology (VU University Medical Center Institute for Cancer and Immunology) O brain (Research Institute for Clinical and Experimental Neurosciences) O vital functions (Institute for Cardiovascular Research) O extramural and transmural (Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine) O movement (MOVE is an inter-faculty joint venture between VU University Medical Center, the Faculty of Human Movement Sciences and the Academic Center for Dentistry Amsterdam).

For general information please visit our website: http://www.tipharma.com