New Internet-Based Test Can Anticipate Alzheimer's
http: //emorymedicinemagazine. emory. edu; Winter 2013/2014

A simple visual examination designed at Emory is very likely to forecast the beginning of Alzheimer's disease or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) three to six years before signs or symptoms appear.

Researchers at Yerkes National Primate Research Center are fine-tuning a internet-based test that gauges how long people view novel and duplicate objects. The examination can demonstrate whether or not a person is pre-symptomatic for cognitive decline or Alzheimer's.

"This could be the idea that helps with a huge problem facing the so-called silver tsunami," states Yerkes director Stuart Zola. "Hopefully, this will truly have a beneficial impact on people's lives and on public health. Wouldn't it be fantastic if our grandchildren could develop without the menace of Alzheimer's disease?"

In the course of many years of research studies, Zola and co-designers Elizabeth Buffalo (Yerkes, neurology) and Cecelia Manzanares (Yerkes, neuroscience) found that monkeys and individuals—even those without any cognitive impairment—who concentrated similarly on both the novel and duplicate items all developed MCI or Alzheimer's within that 3- to six-year window. Individuals who already were identified with MCI at the time of their assessment and who focused on both objects equally went on to acquire Alzheimer's.

"If they were pre-symptomatic at the time of screening, then they were already on a trajectory," Zola states.

The team, along with Eugene Agichtein (math and computer science), started a company, Neurotrack, this past October to secure venture capital funding and to commercialize the technology. (The 2013 South by Southwest Interactive Festival named Neurotrack the year's top web-structured health technology. ) While the team would eventually like to see the technology used in the physician's office, today it is aimed towards pharmaceutical drug companies who could use the test to find people for medical studies who are pre-symptomatic.

Clinical trials for Alzheimer's treatments are challenging, Zola states, because businesses or institutions must either select subjects who have no symptoms but whose level is unclear as to whether or not they will acquire Alzheimer's or select individuals who are already symptomatic. "They may be overlooking a substance that may possibly be practical because it's too late in the game to give it to Alzheimer's sufferers." The test produced by Zola's team provides the capacity for the very first time to select individuals who are pre-symptomatic but are on a trajectory for cognitive decline inside of several years and people who are pre-symptomatic and are not necessarily on that trajectory.





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