CHDR is contributing to the development of new drugs against neurodegeneration. We are developing biomarkers to demonstrate a compound’s effects in healthy volunteers, while also expanding our abilities to perform research in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and 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. This can be solved by using a challenge model, in which a symptom is temporarily and safely induced 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), leading to a temporary decrease in cognitive performance. The test compound can then be administered, and its ability to restore cognitive function can be measured.

Pharmacological challenge models

Genotyping 4000 Parkinson’s patients

Imagine that to find a needle you would need to search every haystack in the country. And then, imagine that you need to find at least 40 needles. This was the challenge we faced when a sponsor approached us to do a study in patients with Parkinson's disease who have a mutation in a specific gene – a mutation which, according to the literature, occurs in only 5 –10% of patients with Parkinson's disease. Thanks to our extensive network, we managed to meet – and even exceed – the recruitment requirements for the study.

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 (such as determining 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 collaborate with the MS Center Amsterdam, part of Amsterdam University Medical Centers. The MS Center is visited by about 50% of all newly diagnosed MS patients in the Netherlands. The centre, headed by Prof. Chris Polman, is one of the top three MS research groups in the world. It includes more than 60 researchers from different disciplines who collaborate to answer questions regarding the cause of and cure for MS. The MS Center Amsterdam offers the following diagnostic facilities:
  • MTR (magnetisation 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

We work with patients with a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Parkinson's disease
  • Dementia
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Vascular cognitive impairment
  • Epilepsy

  • Essential tremor
  • Migraine and cluster headaches

Patient recruitment strategies 

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