Friday, June 15, 2007

Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative database now available to researchers worldwide

A study reported by scientists at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, Phoenix, AZ, and colleagues compared baseline measurements and six-month declines in PET measurements of brain glucose metabolism in people with normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s using data from a national multi-center study. The study found that baseline reductions in the glucose metabolism correlated with clinical severity (AD>MCI>normal) and estimated the number of AD and MCI patients that would be needed to detect putative disease-slowing effects using PET in multi-center clinical trials. These findings were presented at the 2007 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on the Prevention of Dementia held in Washington, D.C.

This project is one of several that fall under the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). One of the goals of ADNI, a public-private research partnership organized by the National Institutes of Health, is to reduce the time and expense associated with clinical trials. The ADNI study observes and tracks changes in normal individuals, in people with mild cognitive impairment and in those with Alzheimer’s. ADNI researchers use PET (positron emission tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans to track changes in the brain, laboratory analyses of cerebrospinal fluid and blood to study biomarkers, and clinical interviews to track cognitive performance over time. ADNI is expected to improve neuroimaging and biomarker measures and consequently allow faster and more efficient evaluation of potential therapies for Alzheimer’s.

The ADNI is a $60 million, five-year study that began recruiting in early 2006, and today has approximately 800 older people at 58 sites in the United States and Canada participating in the effort. The project is supported primarily by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a component of NIH, with private sector support from pharmaceutical companies, other organizations and the Alzheimer’s Association through the Foundation for NIH. In addition to NIA, other federal partners are the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, also part of NIH, and the Food and Drug Administration.

An important achievement of ADNI is the creation of a publicly accessible database available to qualified researchers worldwide. The database contains thousands of MRI and PET scan brain images and clinical data and will include biomarker data obtained through blood and cerebrospinal fluid analyses. ADNI includes samples and brain scans from 200 people with Alzheimer’s, 400 people with mild cognitive impairment and 200 healthy people. All volunteers are between ages 55 and 90. Confidentiality of the participants is rigorously protected.

To date, more than 200 researchers have signed up for database access. Investigators may apply for access to ADNI data through the database Web site, In addition, qualified scientists may also ask for access to the cerebrospinal fluid and blood samples. An application form is available under the “Scientist Home Page” link.

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