Interim findings from the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network study provide encouraging insights about the potential for preclinical detection of Alzheimer's disease and are setting the stage for prevention trials to begin as early as 2012.
Specifically, the findings from the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN) suggest that measurable changes in brain chemistry are apparent at up to 20 or more years before the onset of dementia in Alzheimer's disease patients, DIAN investigators reported at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference.
DIAN, an international collaboration involving 11 leading Alzheimer's research centers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, was estabished in 2008 to investigate an autosomal dominant form of Alzheimer's disease caused by rare genetic mutations in either amyloid precursor protein (APP), or presenilin 1 (PSEN1) or 2 (PSEN2) that virtually ensure a carrier will develop the disease before they reach their 50s - and perhaps as early as their 20s or 30s. The network aims to enroll 200 mutation carriers and 200 noncarrier siblings to evaluate the sequence and rate of biomarker abnormalities that develop prior to the onset of detectable cognitive changes associated with the disease.
The approximately 1% of Alzheimer's disease patients who have the genetic form of the disease are believed to comprise an ideal study population for this purpose. The findings presented at the conference indicate that autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease is quite similar to the far more common later-onset, sporadic form of the disease, and that the two forms of the disease share pathophysiological mechanisms, according to Randy Bateman, assistant director of DIAN and professor of neurology at Washington University in St. Louis, which serves as the coordinating center for the network.