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2012 Grants - Wolk
Exploration of Memory Change in Preclinical Alzheimer's Disease
David A. Wolk, M.D.
University of Pennsylvania
2012 New Investigator Research Grant
It is now widely accepted that biologic changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease begin many years before symptoms can be detected by standard clinical tests. It is also widely believed that treatments to prevent or slow the progression of disease will be most effective in the earliest stages. Thus, better ways to detect early signs of the disease process are needed in order to identify people who are good candidates for clinical trials of new treatments.
David A. Wolk, M.D., and colleagues have proposed a study of cognitive tests and biochemical markers with the goal of finding a simple, reliable and inexpensive test for detecting early signs of the Alzheimer's disease process. The researchers plan to enroll older people who have normal cognitive function and test them using a series of cognitive tests as well as tests of beta-amyloid and tau in the cerebrospinal fluid. The ratio of beta-amyloid and tau measured this way has been shown in several studies to be associated with increased risk of disease.
Dr. Wolk and colleagues will follow their enrolled participants for one year and repeat the testing to assess changes. They will then determine which tests were the most sensitive and reliable for detecting cognitive decline consistent with early-stage Alzheimer's disease. This study may identify reliable ways to detect early disease and aid in identifying candidates for clinical trials.