BIO-NMD - Identifying and validating pre-clinical biomarkers for diagnostics and therapeutics of Neuromuscular Disorders


The rapidly expanding knowledge of NMDs genetic diagnosis, pathogenesis and therapeutic possibilities has provided new targets for disease characterisation, early diagnosis, drug discovery and development as well as has raised many questions about how to translate this knowledge into clinical practice as (initial) clinical trials typically run for such a short time that clinical improvement can hardly be expected within that time frame. This militates for the discovery of surrogate endpoints for establishing the efficacy of clinical trials. The concept of biomarkers represents measurable bio-parameters able to flank the process of diagnosis, functional characterisation and therapy in NMDs. OMIC sciences (genomic, transcriptomics, proteomics) offer opportunities to identify biomarkers for finely defining and tuning the NMDs bases. This approach can make available non-invasive biomarkers, to be used for monitoring disease progression, prognosis and drugs response, therefore optimising the choice of appropriate and often personalised therapies. Validated biomarkers will increase therapy efficiency (meaning optimal dose of drug to get responders) and efficacy (responders vs non responders for example if we will identify genomic biomarkers linked to the lack of any therapeutic effect). In this case we could address a truly efficacious therapy (avoiding inefficacious treatment due to unfavourable genomic contexts). The new genomic and proteomic biomarkers discovered within BIO-NMD will be validated both in animal models and in human samples, before entering into a qualification process at the EMEA. The qualified biomarkers resulting from the BIO-NMD project will be ready for ongoing and further clinical trials for the patient benefit. This will increase the therapy efficacy and efficiency and also reduce adverse effects, with impact on patients’ quality of life with also economical relevance. The BIO-NMD consortium is led by the University of Ferrara, an internationally recognised university in the field of genomics of hereditary neuromuscular disorders. In addition the consortium is composed of 7 leading European academic partners bringing their expertise in all OMIC sciences as well as in bio-informatics and patient sample collection, 1 SME providing its skills in bio-informatics and 1 global company specialised in the development of patient samples screening.

Project details

 Project coordinator: Alessandra Ferlini

 Funding source: 7th Framework Programme

Start date 1/12/2009 - end date 30/11/2012
Total cost: 7.536.073 €
EU contribution: 5.636.592 €
EU contribution to UniFe: 947.800 €


  • Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Coordinator (Italy)
  • Academisch Ziekenhuis Leiden - Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum (Netherlands)
  • University of Newcastle upon Tyne (United Kingdom)
  • Università degli Studi di Padova (Italy)
  • University College London (United Kingdom);
  • Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata (Italy)
  • Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (Inserm) (France)
  • Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy)
  • Kungliga Tekniska Hoegskolan (Sweden)
  • Ariadne Genomics Inc (USA)
  • Life Technoligies GmbH (formerly Applied Biosystems Deutschland Gmbh) (Germany)
  • Novamen SAS (formerly Projets et Reseaux de Recherche (France)
  • Universitè de la Mediteranee d'Aix Marseille II (France)