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2007 Grant - Kavcic
Multimodal Approach for Early Detection of Alzheimer's Disease
Voyko Kavcic, Ph.D.
University of Rochester
Rochester, New York
2007 Senator Mark Hatfield Award for Clinical Research
Because Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder, much research has focused on developing ways to diagnose the disease at its earliest stages. Many scientists believe that a condition called mild cognitive impairment, in which an individual suffers subtle but measurable memory problems, may precede the development of Alzheimer's.
In preliminary studies, Voyko Kavcic, Ph.D., and colleagues have conducted research on people with early, mild forms of Alzheimer's disease. Results indicated that these participants, in addition to having memory problems, also experienced difficulty with visual perception and attention. Researchers also found that such perceptual problems were associated with damage to the brain's white matter, a complex "wiring system" connecting nerve cells in different brain regions with one another. These studies involved the use of a sophisticated imaging technique called diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI).
For their proposed grant, Dr. Kavcic and colleagues plan to conduct similar experiments with a larger participant group that includes people with mild cognitive impairment, people with early Alzheimer's and healthy people. Over the course of three years, the research team will conduct cognitive tests, DT-MRI analyses and other assessments. Investigators expect to confirm the results of their earlier work and to determine new links between behavioral and biological factors and early cognitive loss.
Dr. Kavcic's study could shed light on how people with mild cognitive impairment may develop Alzheimer's disease. Such work could lead to more effective techniques for diagnosing and treating Alzheimer's at its earliest stages.