Swiss-led group promotes Alzheimer's road map

A road map proposed at this week's Second Congress of the European Academy of Neurology in Copenhagen aims to facilitate and speed up the development of biomarkers for Alzheimer's pathology.

The road map seeks to address the absence of a coordinated international approach to biomarker development, which has led to a lack of priorities in research and delays in big breakthroughs, according to a group led by Dr. Giovanni Frisoni from the University of Geneva in Switzerland. In response, the team sought to drive advances by developing a framework that could help guide researchers, funding agencies, and healthcare policymakers. The framework includes five sequential phases:

  • Preclinical exploratory studies
  • Clinical assay development for clinical disease
  • Prospective longitudinal repository studies
  • Prospective diagnostic studies
  • Disease control studies.

Using this framework, the researchers studied the current maturity of Alzheimer's biomarkers by analyzing the available literature on neuropsychology, amyloid imaging, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) A-beta, the tau and phospho-tau proteins, FDG-PET, hippocampal atrophy, iodine-123 metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG), and iodine-123 ioflupane (SPECT). Although all relevant biomarkers have passed through the first process phase, the aims of phase 2 (clinical assay development for clinical disease) and 3 (prospective longitudinal repository studies) are addressed inconsistently by current literature, according to the group.

What's more, only CSF A-beta, hippocampal atrophy, and FDG-PET have even achieved preliminary evidence with regards to phase 4 (prospective diagnostic studies), according to the team. The fifth phase -- disease control studies -- has not been completed for any biomarkers.

"This result shows us clearly the areas on which the scientific community must focus next in order to help Alzheimer patients better in the future," Frisoni said in a statement from the European Academy of Neurology.

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