Database to Handle Alzheimer Risk Factors

What life style factors are associated with the risk of getting Alzheimer disease? One week readers may be exhorted by the latest study to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, while the next week they are warned about metabolic disorder. Even Alzheimer experts find it challenging to keep track. This is why the Alzheimer Research Forum, an independent, nonprofit Web community for Alzheimer researchers, has launched AlzRisk, a database of epidemiological studies.

“The database is structured so that it will allow researchers, at a glance, to see all of the data that have been published on a given risk factor,” said Deborah Blacker, principal investigator on the project. It also allows scientists to combine the results of several studies into a “meta” or pooled analysis to get a more statistically meaningful overview of individual risk factors. “The principal benefit of the database is that it will allow researchers to identify exactly where the field lies. It will give a sense of which factors have been exhaustively analysed, which look very promising, and how we can build on the currently available data,” said Blacker. The database is also available to the public.

AlzRisk will document published findings about the impact of putative environmental risk and protective factors related to Alzheimer’s disease from longitudinal cohort studies. 30 to 40 risk factors have been studied for their impact on Alzheimer’s disease such as hypertension, diabetes, diet, medications, physical and cognitive exercise.

Each risk factor will have a web page detailing the number and type of studies that have been published, the analyses carried out, and the basic findings, along with summary data in tabular and graphical form. There will also be a summary statement for each risk factor that will outline areas of debate, including methodological issues, potential mechanisms of action, and other potentially relevant findings.

Fully curated are so far two putative risk factors, diabetes and vitamin E. Blacker hopes that the database at www.alzrisk.org will be completely operational by the end of 2009.

MEDICA.de; Source: Alzheimer Research Forum Foundation