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ENVI Workshop: “Brain, new approach to brain diseases

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The European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the European Parliament (ENVI) is holding a workshop entitled "The Brain, A New Approach to Brain Diseases" on Wednesday, 21 November 2018 in the European Parliament from 10.00am to 12.00pm.

The brain is the control centre of the body. It controls thoughts, memory, speech, and movement. It regulates the function of many organs. When the brain is healthy, it works quickly and automatically. However, when problems occur, the results can be devastating. Inflammation in the brain can lead to problems such as vision loss, weakness and paralysis. Loss of brain cells, which happens if one suffers a stroke, can affect ability to think clearly. Brain tumours can also press on nerves and affect brain function. Some brain diseases are genetic and the causes of some brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease are still not known. The symptoms of brain diseases vary widely depending on the specific problem. In some cases, damage is permanent. In other cases, treatments such as surgery, medicines, or physical therapy can correct the source of the problem or improve symptoms.

The EU and its Member States have made considerable investments in brain research. The European Commission alone has invested some EUR 5.3 billion over the past 10 years. The numerous resulting research projects have generated considerable amounts of knowledge and innovative approaches. While, some progress has been made in  both reducing the proportion of people having cerebrovascular disease and increasing recovery rates, translation into new health interventions is below expectations and needs.

Many neurological diseases such as strokes, dementia or Parkinson’s have an age component in that the incidence of them increases with age.  According to Eurostat, the number of people in the EU over age 65 will double by the year 2060 to 52 per cent.  Consequently, the incidence of cerebrovascular disease is set to rise. The Brain Council estimate that the direct and indirect cost of cerebrovascular disease in Europe is a whopping EUR 336 billion per year[1]

The purpose of the workshop is to highlight current status and new approaches to the treatment of brain diseases, including diagnosis and rehabilitation.  In recent years, the emergence of ground-breaking new technologies provide hope for further advancement in handling these diseases.  The panel of eminent speakers, each of whom is acknowledged as expert in their area, will address some of the major technological breakthroughs and their potential to revolutionise current approaches to brain disease.

The workshop will address four primary topics as follows:

1.      Cerebrovascular disease: including emerging issues in stroke research, new methods in enhancement of stroke recovery and future challenges of stroke treatment.

2.      Dementia: including childhood and other forms of dementia; diagnosis and treatment; exploring of the societal impact of dementia with reference to EU actions such as the Social Pillar of Rights.

3.      Neurologocial Disorders: with a focus on major disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and migraine.

4.      Framework conditions for tackling brain diseases in Europe: with a focus on the promotion of brain research at European level in order to improve the quality of life of people living with brain disorders in Europe.  The importance and scope for dialogue and co-operation between scientists, industry and society will be explored.

Investment in research of neurological diseases will not only help increase life-expectancy and reduce suffering but will also result in significant savings for social and care services. A 2015 Deloitte report indicated that health care research accounts for just four per cent of the EUR 1.4 trillion spent on health care in the 28 EU member states[2].

The inputs from academics, medical professionals, industry and patient advocacy groups at the European Parliament Brain Workshop will inform policy and underpin the importance of continued and increased investment in brain-related research and development for the benefit of future generations.





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