Penn To Participate in National Alzheimer’s
Disease Research Initiative
Brain Imaging Data to be Combined With Genetic and Biomarker Information
to Ultimately Streamline Clinical Trials
(Philadelphia, PA) -The clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD)
remains imprecise, especially in its initial stages, with a definitive
diagnosis requiring an autopsy. While research conducted in the past 10
years has led to dramatic advances in understanding AD (and thereby accelerating
drug discovery efforts), increasing evidence suggests that potential AD
therapies are likely to be most effective early in the course of the disease.
To that end, reliable diagnostic tests for the early detection of AD are
needed to increase the likelihood of arresting memory impairments and
other cognitive deficits, says John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD,
Director of the Institute on Aging, and Co-director of the Center for
Neurodegenerative Disease Research and the Marian S. Ware Alzheimer Program
at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Earlier this week, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) — in conjunction
with other Federal agencies, private companies, and organizations —
launched a $60 million, five-year public-private partnership, the Alzheimer's
Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). Its purpose is to test whether
serial magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, other
biological markers, and clinical and neuropsychological assessment can
be combined to measure the progression of mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
and early Alzheimer's disease.
The study could help researchers and clinicians develop new treatments
and monitor their effectiveness, as well as lessen the time and cost of
clinical trials. The project is the most comprehensive effort to date
to find neuroimaging and other biomarkers for the cognitive changes associated
with MCI and AD.
Penn Biomarker Core
Within the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, the Penn
Biomarker Core - led by Trojanowski - will collect biological samples
from normal individuals and AD patients followed in the study in order
to develop diagnostic laboratory tests for the early diagnosis of AD.
The identification of informative AD biomarkers (chemicals and other biological
substances) and the development of laboratory tests to measure these biomarkers
in blood, urine, or cerebrospinal fluid could substantially improve methods
for the early diagnosis of AD, in concert with imaging data. In addition
to Trojanowski, Leslie M. Shaw, PhD, Professor of Pathology
and Laboratory Medicine, Amin A. Nanji, MD, Professor
of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Virginia M.-Y. Lee,
PhD, Director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research,
are co-investigators in the Penn Biomarker Core. Christopher Clark,
MD, Director, Memory Disorders Clinic, will lead recruitment
of patients for the ADNI at the Penn site.
Study Recruitment to Begin Spring 2005
The study will take place at approximately 50 sites across the U.S. and
Canada. In April 2005, investigators will begin recruiting about 800 adults,
ages 55 to 90, to participate in the research - approximately 200 cognitively
normal older individuals to be followed for three years, 400 people with
MCI to be followed for three years, and 200 people with early AD to be
followed for two years.
For more information those interested in the study can contact the NIA's
Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center at 1-800-438-4380.
PENN Medicine is a $2.7 billion enterprise dedicated
to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and
high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of
Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation’s
first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System
(created in 1993 as the nation’s first integrated academic health
Penn’s School of Medicine is ranked #3 in the nation for receipt
of NIH research funds; and ranked #4 in the nation in U.S. News &
World Report’s most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical
schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School
of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training
of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic
Penn Health System is comprised of: its flagship hospital, the Hospital
of the University of Pennsylvania, consistently rated one of the nation’s
“Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania
Hospital, the nation's first hospital; Presbyterian Medical Center; a
faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty
satellite facilities; and home health care and hospice.