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Approved Research

Association of neurodegenerative diseases with cancer.

Principal Investigator: Professor Yuan Shen
Approved Research ID: 93435
Approval date: January 16th 2023

Lay summary

Cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease, are among the leading causes of human death around the world. Research has found a potential inverse association between cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Specifically, patients with neurodegenerative diseases may have a lower risk of cancer and those with cancer may have a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases. However, different findings exist and the previous studies could not study the association systematically due to data limitations. Moreover, the pathogenesis of both cancer and neurodegenerative diseases is largely unknown and less is known about the biological mechanism between the two diseases.

We, therefore, propose the research project to comprehensively investigate the association between neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. With the help of UK biobank database, the project will analyze the association between different types of neurodegenerative diseases and different types of cancers with appropriate statistical methods. The project will also investigate the effect of treatment (e.g., surgery, chemotherapy, drugs, etc.) for one disease on the risk of other disease. If the inverse association between neurodegenerative diseases and cancer could be verified, the further intention of this project is to identify the brain structure changes and genetic alterations in the inverse association between neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.

The estimated duration of this project is 36 months, but due to the complex nature of the analysis, it may need to be extended for a longer period.

This project could help in understanding the complicated relationship between neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, revealing innovative pathogenesis regarding neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, and developing a strategic plan for preventing or delaying cancer and/or neurodegenerative diseases onset.