There is a progress report on the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative titled ‘The Alzheimer’s disease neuroimaging initiative: progress report and future plans’ by Weiner and colleagues and freely available here. Although the authors don’t focus on the history of the ADNI in detail, they refer to another useful source for this and discuss it in passing. The ADNI was established to identify biomarkers for conversion from mild cognitive impairment to dementia and also to establish outcome measures for treatment. The reader interested in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s Disease is referred to section 1.2 which outlines the elegant model which has informed the study. The model uses the Amyloid hypothesis in which ABeta peptide builds up in the brain leading to a chain of events which eventually causes synaptic dysfunction and neuronal loss. What’s particularly here is that a model has been used to build a real-world experimental paradigm which has generated data to modify the model and the researchers in this initiative have investigated large numbers of variables from that model. Nevertheless as the authors point out the underlying amyloid hypothesis isn’t essential for the studies from the initiative and indeed there are several pieces of evidence that argue against this hypothesis in its simplest format. What is most interesting about the initiative is that the data has been made available to scientists around the world and for this reason there has been a large amount of research completed using these datasets. The operational details of the initiative are outlined in the methodology section of the paper including the policy for gatekeeping access to the dataset. The results section is by far the most interesting part of this paper highlighting the achievements of the initiative. These include the development of protocols for different neuroimaging approaches, the identification of biomarkers which predict structural and functional changes in the brain. The development of similar initiatives in other parts of the world is encouraging and appears to be another direct effect of this initiative. Finally the authors look to the future and hint at ADNI 2, which in one sense is a renewal of the grant for the study but in another takes the initiative in a different direction whilst building on the firm foundations of the ADNI. This is a useful paper summarising the ADNI which has advanced an understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease and laid the foundations for a series of further projects which should hopefully contribute towards both a better understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease and also improved treatment options.
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