National Institute on Aging Neuroimaging Initiative for Alzheimer's disease

WASHINGTON--The National Institute on Aging is launching a landmark study to find neuroimaging and other methods for monitoring the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD) aimed at significantly reducing the time and cost of clinical trials. In the last few decades, great strides have been made in understanding the genetics and biology of Alzheimer's disease. But there is as yet no treatment that can delay the onset of AD or actually halt its progression, and experts predict that the current number of people with AD - 4.5 million - could grow to as many as 16 million by 2050 unless new and effective treatments are found. However, clinical trials of promising new medications are slow, expensive, and difficult to conduct, according to Michael Weiner, M.D., principal investigator for the study, who spoke today at the AMA's 23rd Annual Science Reporters Conference.

"Brain imaging seems to offer the greatest potential for tracking the progression of AD and simplifying clinical trials. Those of us doing brain imaging research believe we can recognize how the brain changes in normal aging and identify specific changes that are related to AD," said Dr. Weiner, director of the Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Disease at the VA Medical Center and professor of medicine, radiology, psychiatry and neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. "But every lab is doing something a bit different. Some people are using PET (positron emission tomography) and some varying types of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). What are the best methods; what would make the best standard?"

The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative has five major goals, according to Dr. Weiner: develop a standard imaging method for clinical trials; improve methods of imaging; determine the optimum methods for acquiring and processing images; validate imaging and biomarker data; and provide a database that will be available to all qualified scientific investigators.


Contact: Vicky Cahan
American Medical Association

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