CHDR is contributing to the development of new drugs against neurodegeneration. We are developing biomarkers to demonstrate a compound’s effects in healthy volunteers, and at the same time we are expanding our abilities to perform research in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's disease (PD) or epilepsy. CHDR’s staff includes two board-certified neurologists with clinical positions in academic medical hospitals in Leiden and Amsterdam.

Using biomarkers to measure the action of next-generation CNS drugs

New drugs are currently being developed to slow disease progression in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). However, it is often not possible to measure the pharmacodynamic effects of these compounds in healthy subjects. Usually, CHDR’s solution is to use a challenge model, in which we temporarily and safely induce a symptom in a healthy subject. For example, to measure the effects of cholinergic drugs on cognition, a healthy subject can be given an anticholinergic compound (e.g. scopolamine or mecamylamine), thereby experiencing a temporary decrease in cognitive performance. In this context, the test compound can then be administered, and its ability to restore cognitive function can be measured. Geert Jan Groeneveld, CSO/CMO: "In the case of enzyme inhibitors designed to stop neurodegeneration, such a challenge model would be ethically irresponsible. Nevertheless, we plan to measure the effect of the test compound on pharmacodynamics in the earliest stages of the drug’s development."

Pharmacological Challenge Models

Genotyping 4000 Parkinson’s patients

Putting the Monocenter and Ready4Research strategies into practice: genotyping 4000 patients with Parkinson's disease.

Imagine that the only way to find a needle would be to search every haystack in the country. And then, imagine that you need to find at least 40 needles. CHDR faced such a challenge when a sponsor asked them to do a study in patients with Parkinson's disease who have a mutation in a specific gene, which according to the literature occurs in 5 to 10% of all patients with the disease. Thanks to our extensive network, we managed to find (more than) enough patients.

Read more in Annual Report 2017

Alzheimer's disease

Most hospitals in the Netherlands have an outpatient clinic that specialises in elderly patients with impaired memory and/or cognitive function. In addition to providing diagnostic facilities (for example to determine whether a patient has a treatable condition or a non-treatable form of dementia), these clinics offer advice and guidance to patients with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. To tap into this valuable network, CHDR is establishing collaborations with these outpatient clinics, thereby facilitating the recruitment of patients with Alzheimer’s disease who may wish to participate in upcoming drug trials. Additionally, together with these clinics we can provide specialised diagnostic methods, including:

- Standard diagnostic CSF sampling (Aβ1-42, tau, p-tau)

- 36-h CSF sampling

- Amyloid PET (PIB, florbetapir, flutemetamol)


- Hippocampal volumetry (MRI)

- Pharmacological challenge models

Multiple Sclerosis

We also have a collaboration with the MS Center Amsterdam. The MS Center is visited by about 50% of all newly diagnosed MS patients in the Netherlands. The center, headed by prof. Chris Polman, is one of the top three MS research groups in the world. It includes more than 60 researchers of different disciplines who collaborate to answer questions regarding the cause and cure of MS. They offer the following diagnostic facilities:

- MTR (magnetization transfer ratio) for demyelination

- DTI (diffusion tensor imaging)

- H/M ratio (EMG) for spasticity

- Double inversion recovery 3T MRI imaging for detection of MS lesions

Myelin turnover quantification using D2O labelling

Patient populations

  • Parkinson's disease
  • Dementia
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Vascular Cognitive Impairment
  • Epilepsy

  • Essential Tremor
  • Migraine and cluster headaches

Patient recruitment strategies 

Contact CHDR