Several Methods for Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease Developed

Photo: Brain Scan

Dementia has been recently identi-
fied as a health priority both in
Europe and in the USA;
© NCI Visual Online

"The aim of the PredictAD project is to develop an objective indicator to diagnose Alzheimer's disease at the earliest stage possible. Current diagnostic guidelines emphasise the importance of various biomarkers in diagnostics. We have developed novel approaches to extract biomarkers from imaging data, electrophysiological data and blood samples, and a unique and clinically useful software tool for integrating all these heterogeneous measurements." says the Scientific Coordinator of the project, Doctor Jyrki Lötjönen from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Atrophy in the mediotemporal lobe is a well-known hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. Magnetic resonance imaging is an excellent tool for measuring this tissue loss. PredictAD has developed several methods to meet this need.

Alzheimer's disease is known to affect the electromagnetic activity of the brain. In PredictAD, researchers have studied the performance of a novel technology, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) combined with electroencephalographic (EEG) measures in detecting the disease.

Molecular level biomarkers are currently under extensive studies in Alzheimer's research. Many biomarkers, such as tau proteins and b-amyloid 42, measured from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the liquid surrounding the cerebral cortex, have been found to be strongly related with the disease. Blood samples would be an excellent source for detecting Alzheimer's disease as blood sampling is not considered an invasive technique. PredictAD has studied the role of metabolomic and protein compounds in Alzheimer's disease from blood samples.

Currently, clinicians make the final diagnosis by combining heterogeneous measurements with information from interviews of the patient and relatives. PredictAD has designed a totally novel approach for measuring objectively the state of the patient. This decision support system, compares patient measurements with measurements of other patients in large databases and provides at the end an index and graphical representation reflecting the state of the patient.

Dementia has been recently identified as a health priority both in Europe and in the USA. Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia, alone accounts for costs equivalent to about 1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the whole world and the number of persons affected will double in the next 20 years.; Source: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland