New Alzheimer’s definition proposed by Researchers

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Alzheimer’s researchers have proposed shifting the definition of Alzheimer’s disease in living people – for use in research – from the current one, based on cognitive changes and behavioural symptoms with biomarker confirmation, to a strictly biological construct. This represents a major evolution in how the disease is thought of in the present scenario.

The researchers stated that understanding and effectively treating Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias may be the most difficult challenge for the medical/scientific community this century. The field has experienced monumental challenges developing new and effective drug therapies, not the least of which was the discovery that – until recently –clinical trials were conducted where up to 30% of participants did not have the Alzheimer’s disease-related brain change targeted by the experimental drug.

“With the aging of the global population, and the ever-escalating cost of care for people with dementia, new methods are desperately needed to improve the process of therapy development and increase the likelihood of success,” said Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer and a co-author of the new article. “This new Research Framework is an enormous step in the right direction for Alzheimer’s research.”

According to the authors, “This evolution of the previous diagnostic criteria is in line with most chronic diseases that are defined biologically, with clinical symptoms being a … consequence.” They say, “the goal of much of medicine is to identify and treat diseases prior to overt symptoms. The [NIA-AA Research] Framework is intended to provide a path forward to … prevention trials of Alzheimer’s disease among persons who are clinically asymptomatic.”

According to Dr. Jack, once validated in diverse global populations, this new definition will create a powerful tool to speed and improve the development of disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

The authors envision that defining Alzheimer’s disease as a biological construct will enable a more accurate understanding of the sequence of events that lead to the cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the multiple causes of the disease. This will enable a more precise approach to therapy trials including focusing more specific targets and including the appropriate people.

 

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News Source: https://alz.org/documents_custom/research_framework_news_release_041018.pdf

Image Source: https://www.onhealth.com/content/1/alzheimers_myths