Brain Awareness Week, 14 – 20 March

During Brain Awareness Week, 14 – 20 March, we are focusing on the importance of research in stroke.

Each day we will share some insights into new and exciting stroke research in Europe.

Today we focus on SVDs@Target.

Targets for intervention for the prevention of stroke and dementia

Researchers in Europe, looking at the link between stroke and dementia, have recently completed their six-year study and are here today to tell us more about what they found and the future implications of their findings.

Stroke and dementia rank among the most pressing health issues in Europe. Diseases in small blood vessels, known as cerebral small vessel diseases (SVDs) have emerged as a central link between these two major conditions.

SVDs account for more than 30% of strokes, 40% of dementia cases and many other conditions. Despite this profound impact on human health, there are no effective treatments against SVDs.

The SVDs@target network brought together basic scientists, academic clinicians and patients from throughout Europe and the US to better understand SVDs with the aim of developing new treatments and finally contribute to the prevention of stroke and dementia.

What did you find?

The SVDs@target consortium consists of researchers who investigated both what causes SVDs and how to improve diagnosis and the treatment of SVDs.

Among the most important findings within the project are the identification of new ways to identify SVDs using MRI scanning and also improved ways of using the MRI scanning itself to identify SVDs, both of which could be used to improve diagnosis. They also discovered an important step in how SVDs forms. This could be used in future clinical trials to develop new treatments for SVDs.

What are your next steps?

The project was completed at the end of December 2021. However, the research partners will continue to collaborate as the insights gained by SVDs@target has brought up new ideas and promising results, which need to be examined and followed up. Currently new funding opportunities are being investigated and the results from this research will be published and communicated to the SVDs community. 

What does this mean for patients?

As SVDs@target is mainly a lab-based research project, the patient will benefit in the long-term. The results are really promising and more research needs to be done before it can be tested at clinical stages. However, especially the MRI findings will be of great importance for the clinical MRI diagnostics sector for neurodegenerative diseases and can be adapted very quickly by the clinicians, researchers and MRI Core Facilities.

Professor Geert Jan Van Biessels and PhD student Stanley Pham explain more:

For more information on the trial:

SVDs@target has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 666881.