The five-year study will provide state-of-the-art imaging and blood-based biomarkers for researchers around the world to study and advance the field of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. The work is also designed to shed light on mixed dementia, where more than one neurological disease is contributing to dementia.
Researchers are beginning to understand that mixed dementia occurs more frequently than had been realized and can cause multiple changes in the brain. For example, an individual may be initially diagnosed with and treated for Alzheimer’s disease, but their brains may also show signs of vascular dementia, which impairs blood flow in the brain. Or, they may also have Lewy body dementia, which involves a brain protein called alpha-synuclein. Without knowing the true cause of a patient’s dementia, physicians can’t properly treat them, according to Sterling Johnson, study leader and professor of medicine at UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
“This study represents a significant milestone in Alzheimer’s research,” said Johnson, who holds a doctorate in clinical neuropsychology. “By collaborating across our Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers network, we can shed light on the complex interplay of multiple pathologies contributing to dementia, ultimately advancing our understanding and treatment of this devastating condition.”