Targeting blood vessels to treat dementia

Targeting blood vessel instability as therapeutic approach to treat dementia

NV-STAB aims to implement innovative therapeutics complemented with novel ultrasound imaging technologies in dementia. NV-STAB gathers two academic institutes, LUMC and PHYSMED and one private partner ICONEUS that combine expertise in vascular biology, neurophysiology, medicine, physics and engineers in medtech industry, which is not available in any one group. LUMC defines the key problems that will be solved by the ultrasound technologies developed by PHYSMED and ICONEUS.

Dementia describes a group of neurological disorders resulting in a progressive loss of cognitive functions. They are a leading cause of death and chronic disability affecting more than 40 millions of people worldwide. Although the financial burden of dementia remains difficult to quantify, recent publications have estimated that the global cost reaches €743 billions. There is as yet no medical treatment with confirmed efficacy for dementia. The most probable explanations for failures include inadequate understanding of the complex physiopathology of such diseases, erroneous selection of drug targets and a late initiation of treatments.

Early blood capillary dysfunctions contribute to the initial stages of dementia indicating possible interventional targets. NV_STAB aims to introduce novel derivatives of Thalidomide that specifically stabilize blood capillary to treat cerebral Small Vessel Diseases (sCVD). Albeit rare, blood vessels from sCVD exhibit the salient features of other neurodegenerative disorders and as such provide tractable preclinical models for research and patient groups for clinical trials. The overall approach is to carry out systemic research on mouse models of sCVD having mutations that affect different small-sized blood vessels of the brain. By implementing groundbreaking ultrasound-imaging technologies, the whole brain vasculature and function with up to microscopic resolution will be imaged. The wish is to identify early cerebrovascular markers that could ultimately be translated in clinic to identify patient groups at the earliest stages and to monitor disease progression as well as drug action. 

Drugs targeting vascular alterations could offer novel therapies for dementia. However, this approach requires the identification of markers for early diagnosis. A novel analogues of thalidomide will be introduced that promote vessel stability to treat inherited cerebral Small Vessel Diseases and groundbreaking ultrasound imaging technologies to identify biomarkers for disease progression.
Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
1 - 4
Time period
36 months