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Scientists Tailor Approach to Alzheimer's

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerJuly 27, 2018

In early March, 80 of the nation’s leading researchers and scientists gathered in Bethesda, Maryland for the 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit. Now, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released their recommendations for future Alzheimer’s and dementia research as part of the “National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Learn more about the summit and one of the key themes that emerged there – tailoring the approach to Alzheimer’s through the use of precision medicine.

2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit

The 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit took place in Maryland in early March, bringing experts from educational and government institutions, industry and non-profit organizations to understand more about the future of Alzheimer’s and how to best fight the disease.

The summit focused on a “push to understand people with Alzheimer’s in a multidimensional way, focusing on research to develop new therapeutic targets.” Richard J. Hodes, MD and NIA Director said:

“This is a critical time in Alzheimer’s research, with new opportunities to build upon whatever we have learned. We must continue to foster creative approaches that leverage emerging scientific and technological advances, establish robust translational infrastructure for rapid and broad sharing of data and research tools, and work with funding partners and other stakeholders to cultivate and sustain an open science research ecosystem.”

Recently, experts proposed recommendations from the summit to guide future research on Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia. The recommendations have been adopted by the National Advisory Council on Aging and will be used to update the milestones set forth in the “National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Researchers Promote New Approach to Alzheimer’s

One of the key recommendations is a new approach to Alzheimer’s – the use of precision medicine. This means that medical professionals and researchers should be tailoring prevention and treatment plans to meet the patient’s unique risk profile.

Eliezer Masliah, MD, and head of the NIA Neuroscience Division, says:

“Alzheimer’s disease is a heterogeneous disorder. We are learning more about genetic and environmental risk factors and we need to start differentiating Alzheimer’s patients based on genetics, environmental exposure, and clinical history. This might be more effective than a one-size-fits-all type of approach, which is where we are right now.”

Researchers acknowledge that the key to developing precision medicine for Alzheimer’s will be data sharing. Understanding Alzheimer’s as a multidimensional disease will require more than one person working independently in a lab. “We need tremendous sharing of data among many, many different groups according to precision medicine ideals. Open access is a very important component,” Masliah says.

Do you think a more tailored approach to Alzheimer’s is necessary? We’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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