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Neurosignals. 2008;16(1):19-23. Epub 2007 Dec 5.

PENN biomarker core of the Alzheimer's disease Neuroimaging Initiative.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


There is a pressing need to develop effective prevention and disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer's disease (AD), a dreaded affliction whose incidence increases almost logarithmically with age starting at about 65 years. A key need in the field of AD research is the validation of imaging and biochemical biomarkers. Biomarker tests that are shown to reliably predict the disease before it is clinically expressed would permit testing of new therapeutics at the earliest time point possible in order to give the best chance for delaying the onset of dementia in these patients. In this review the current state of AD biochemical biomarker research is discussed. A new set of guidelines for the diagnosis of AD in the research setting places emphasis on the inclusion of selected imaging and biochemical biomarkers, in addition to neuropsychological behavioral testing. Importantly, the revised guidelines were developed to identify patients at the earliest stages prior to full-blown dementia as well as patients with the full spectrum of the disease. The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative is a multicenter consortium study that includes as one of its primary goals the development of standardized neuroimaging and biochemical biomarker methods for AD clinical trials, as well as using these to measure changes over time in mildly cognitively impaired patients who convert to AD as compared to the natural variability of these in control subjects and their further change over time in AD patients. Validation of the biomarker results by correlation analyses with neuropsychological and neurobehavioral test data is one of the primary outcomes of this study. This validation data will hopefully provide biomarker test performance needed for effective measurement of the efficacy of new treatment and prevention therapeutic agents.

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