Wednesday, March 5, 2008

MCI and Predictive Neuroimaging

Monday ( March 3, 2008) at the weekly PredictER meeting, Andrew Saykin, PsyD, Director, Indiana University Center for Neuroimaging, shared his work on the neuroimaging of Alzheimer's disease. Saykin's study of Alzheimer's began with a small cohort at Dartmouth. Except for the control population, most of participants in this research were diagnosed with MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment). As his research developed his cohorts began to include individuals reporting memory complaints, but who were not yet diagnosed with MCI. Interestingly, Dr. Saykin has observed changes in the brain scans of both MCI patients and patients with memory complaints compared to his control. Today Saykin is working to build (and collaborate with) larger, more diverse cohorts—cohorts which are easier to find at research institutions, like the Indiana University School of Medicine, located in "sunny" Indianapolis. In addition to representing a more diverse demographic, these developing cohorts will also examine ways to identify, with new imaging technologies and genetic research tools, the earliest biomarkers of the disease. As with many predictive health research studies, the ultimate goal is to identify the disease early enough to develop therapeutic and preventative interventions.

Some of the ethical issues discussed include:

How much to tell research participants: Do participants want to know the results of every memory test and each neuroimaging procedure?

Should researchers be prepared to disclose this information even when a reliable interpretation of the risks is not available?

The value of this research to public health: At the moment and into the foreseeable future, the ability to diagnose the onset of Alzheimer's disease exceeds medicine’s ability to treat the disease … will early diagnostics result in inappropriate marketing of unproven interventions to at-risk individuals?

Will there be a way to protect individuals from wasted expense, discrimination and questionable experimental treatments while at the same time encouraging continued research to understand the disease?

To join us at a future PredictER meeting, check our Center's calendar to verify the time and topic: - calendar

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