Studying Therapies for AD Prior to Diagnosis Will Alter the Requirements for Assessing Cognitive Function

New Article Co-Authored by Bracket’s Prof. Keith Wesnes

A publication has just appeared (Wesnes & Edgar, 2014) describing how the focus of dementia research has shifted from attempting to treat the full manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) to intervening at the very earliest stages of the neurodegenerative process. Large long term trials are now underway in preclinical AD, in which the participants are otherwise healthy persons but with a biomarker signature indicative of an increased risk of developing the disease. The FDA has been proactive in this area by indicating that treatments could be approved for preclinical AD via an accelerated pathway based solely on cognitive testing. The paradigm in the field must thus shift from the concept of having a pre-set level of cognitive impairment which triggers the diagnosis of Mild-Cognitive Impairment or AD; to one in which a rate of deterioration of cognitive function which exceeds that seen in normal ageing becomes the focus of interest. With this shift of attention to the very earliest changes in cognitive function, the already limited sensitivity of the cognitive scales and tests traditionally used in AD research will become even more evident.

This paper reviews and discusses the methodology and instruments available for research and clinical practice in this rapidly growing field; with a focus on the challenges involved in test selection and evaluation.

Follow the link below to view the paper.

The role of human cognitive neuroscience in drug discovery for the dementias
By Keith A Wesnes and Chris J Edgar