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Approved research

Genetic studies of brain imaging, cognition, and family history phenotypes to inform neurodegenerative disease therapeutics

Principal Investigator: Dr Heiko Runz
Approved Research ID: 25570
Approval date: May 1st 2017

Lay summary

The Human Genetics and Translational Genomics group at Biogen proposes to utilize the genetics, brain imaging, cognition, family history, and medical history data in the UK Biobank to support research on neurodegenerative disease, namely Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. The data will be used to inform prioritization of therapeutic and precision medicine approaches. Researchers intend to 1) evaluate the relationships among derived imaging variables, cognition phenotypes, and risk scores derived by genetic, medical, lifestyle and family history data; 2) perform GWAS of imaging and cognition variables identified by (1); and 3) perform GWAS of risk scores and family history. Biogen?s proposed use of the UK Biobank resource aligns with the UK Biobank mission to promote health research in the public interest as it relates directly to the development of therapeutics for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease, the two most common neurodegenerative diseases. The results of the proposed GWAS will be used to inform existing programs for AD and PD therapeutics and support the initiation of novel programs with human genetic evidence at Biogen. Alzheimer?s and Parkinson's disease are the most common neurodegenerative diseases and few treatments are available that delay progression. To develop effective treatments, we need to better understand the relationship between environmental risk factors and genes as subjects transition from health to disease. UK Biobank has collected cognitive function data on most participants and performed MRI brain imaging on over 10,000. We will combine the cognitive, imaging and genetic data to ask why some people are at higher risk of Alzheimer?s or Parkinson's and identify biological pathways that will help us discover and develop new treatments. The full UK Biobank cohort of approximately 500,000 participants is requested for these analyses. Our studies will utilize the genetic, family history, and medical data on all available participants. We request the brain imaging data on the available subset of approximately 11,000.