Collaboration To Improve Early Detection Of Alzheimer's Disease

19.07.2009

AstraZeneca and The Mental Health Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, today announced that they have entered into a research collaboration agreement to develop new ways of identifying Alzheimer's disease patients at early stages of the disease.

Researchers aim to find out whether testing cognition at short intervals (every one to three months) over an eighteen-month period will make it possible to identify individuals just at the point at which they are beginning to suffer cognitive decline as a result of Alzheimer's disease.

The study will be conducted in conjunction with The Australian Imaging, Biomarker & Lifestyle Flagship Study of Ageing (AIBL), which aims to improve understanding of the causes and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, and help develop preventative strategies.

Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative brain disease for which there is currently no definitive diagnostic tool. Doctors rely on their clinical judgment to diagnose the disease once it has become symptomatic, but the pathologic process very likely starts a few years beforehand.

Professor Paul Maruff, from the Mental Health Research Institute says, "When assessing cognitive function in an individual at risk for dementia on the first occasion, it is often difficult to determine whether their performance on cognitive tests has declined from some previously higher level. The repeated application of a set of brief and simple cognitive measures could therefore help to identify accurately the point when the onset of Alzheimer's disease was imminent in individual people. This could ultimately lead to a more personalized approach with more effective treatments being given to the right patients at the right time."

Dr Judith Jaeger, Director of Neuroscience Early Clinical Development at AstraZeneca adds, "We recognize that in addition to searching for new medicines, we urgently need to find new ways to identify those at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease before they begin to experience symptoms. In addition to developing a novel approach to diagnosing cognitive decline, we hope that our collaboration with the world-class researchers at The Mental Health Research Institute will provide insights that aid our search for new treatments and ways to prevent disease progression."