Study into early Alzheimer's disease treatments
The New Therapeutics in Alzheimer's Disease (NTAD) study is looking to detect markers of the disease before symptoms show. These markers will be used to test whether experimental treatments can delay, or even prevent, the progression of the disease.
New Therapeutics in Alzheimer's Disease
Universities don't make drugs – that's the job of pharmaceutical companies. To speed up the process, a new study into early Alzheimer's disease treatments, called NTAD, has brought together academic and industry scientists. They are using the latest scanning technology to carry out research that will help efforts to find new drugs by pinpointing the earliest changes in the brain caused by Alzheimer's disease.
Register your interest in volunteering for the NTAD study. We are currently recruiting in the Oxford area and are looking for people with memory problems or a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.
The New Therapeutics in Alzheimer's Disease (NTAD) study, supported by Dementias Platform UK (DPUK), is testing new brain scans that are revealing early changes in the brain that are a signature of Alzheimer’s disease.
DETECTING EARLY ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE.
Alzheimer's disease accounts for over 60% of all dementia cases in the world. With few effective treatments, researchers are looking for new ways to slow or prevent the disease. The New Therapeutics in Alzheimer's Disease (NTAD) study is developing reliable 'biomarkers' – biological characteristics – in the brain that are indicators of early-stage Alzheimer's. With these biomarkers we will be able to speed up the process of developing new drugs that can treat the disease before symptoms start.
Across two sites – Cambridge and Oxford – NTAD is recruiting 100 patients and 30 healthy people. The study is using magnetoencephalography (MEG) brain scanners to detect and test biomarkers and find reliable indicators of early Alzheimer's disease. Consistent and reliable indicators for early Alzheimer's will give our partners in the pharmaceutical sector the tools they need to assess whether new treatments can slow or prevent Alzheimer's disease in its early stages and should therefore be tested in drug trials.
AMYLOID PROTEINS AND MEMORY PROBLEMS
Treating Alzheimer's disease early is vital. Damaging amyloid proteins, the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, build up years before symptoms show and result in irreversible damage to the brain. For this reason, NTAD is focusing on detecting the disease at an earlier stage so that drug companies can develop treatments that stop the disease before symptoms start.
BIOMARKERS FOR EARLY ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE
Although it is still early in the NTAD study, interim findings from the Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre have identified subtle changes in brain cell activity that indicate early Alzheimer's disease. Follow-up scans of the participants after a year has now started and will establish whether these biomarkers can be used to monitor which compounds slow brain cell decline.
RECRUITING VOLUNTEERS NEAR OXFORD FOR ALZHEIMER'S STUDY
As part of the NTAD study, volunteers are given memory and blood tests, and PET, MRI and MEG scans. Researchers ask a small number of participants to repeat their MEG scans after two weeks to check the reliability of results. After a year, the researchers will invite volunteers back for a follow-up scan.
MEG SCANS DETECTING BRAIN CELL ACTIVITY
The difference between MEG scans and other scans is that they record the speed of brain activity down to the millisecond. MEG scans visualise the early signs of 'synaptic dysfunction' – a decline in brain cell activity – in Alzheimer's disease before symptoms show. By comparison, MRI – the more common form of brain imaging – measures slower changes in the levels of oxygen in the blood.
COLLABORATION BETWEEN INDUSTRY AND ACADEMIA
NTAD is a collaboration between private companies AstraZeneca, Janssen and Lilly, and the universities of Oxford, Cardiff and Cambridge. It hopes to end the cycle of promising new drugs failing at the point of trial.