Alzheimer research to find out who will develop the disease


A study capable of identifying an effective treatment may also be able to develop affordable methods that determine early Alzheimer's diagnosis. Are the results of the work conducted by an international team, including researchers from the University Hospital of Padua and the University of Padua, published in Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience entitled, TMS-EEG Biomarkers of Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment Due to Alzheimer’s Disease: A Proof-of-Concept Six Years Prospective Study. The research was made possible thanks to a collaboration between the IRCCS San Raffaele in Rome, the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, the IRCCS Neuromed in Pozzilli, the Sapienza University of Rome, and Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital in Rome.

Professor in the Department of Neuroscience of the University of Padua Florinda Ferreri explains, “The study evaluated a control group of healthy elderly subjects and a group of 17 patients with mild cognitive disorder that are not clearly pathological, referred to as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). The study aimed to understand if it was possible to identify those who are at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease at an early stage from those who will not. The goal was to use a new non-invasive and low-cost technique combining transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalogram (EEG), making it possible to identify distinctive signs of cerebral functioning.  This could identify subjects with MCI, but who remain stable over time, as compared to those who develop full-blown Alzheimer's dementia within a few years. This technique allows us to study, with extreme accuracy, difficulties found during the transmission of cortical electrical waveforms at the early phase of the disease. Such difficulties progressively accumulate in the brain causing damage of those who become sick, and to date, not even sophisticated instruments can detect this.”

These results once confirmed on a larger scale, will prove their significance in light of the recent approval by the FDA of the first drug capable of modifying the natural history of Alzheimer's dementia. The drug makes it possible to stop additional brain damage only if taken during the early stages of the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 60,000 people in Italy and 30 million worldwide. The progressive erosion of memory and the inability to organize information characterizes Alzheimer’s and dementia. As the average life span exceeds, these diseases will become a global health problem.