This week, we presented a New Investigator Research Grant to Owen T. Carmichael, Ph.D. assistant professor at the University of California, Davis for his study “Imaging Biomarkers of Preclinical Cerebrovascular Disease.”
To understand this study, first you’ll need to understand that Alzheimer’s disease appears to have an extensive “preclinical phase,” or a stage that occurs before significant cognitive decline or other clinical symptoms arise. Increasing evidence suggests that blood flow problems in the brain may also play a role in preclinical Alzheimer’s.
Such abnormal blood flow is often labeled as preclinical cerebrovascular disease (CVD). Yet scientists have not determined exactly how CVD influences the progression of early Alzheimer’s, largely because CVD biomarkers have not been precisely determined.
Dr. Carmichael plan to use sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to assess four potential biomarkers of preclinical CVD: reduced brain blood flow; tiny hemorrhages (areas of bleeding) in the brain; small, stroke-related lesions; and the narrowing of carotid arteries that lead to the brain. Results of this effort could lead to larger studies that clarify, step-by-step, how CVD-related brain changes occur over time. Ultimately, such work could identify treatments that target both cerebrovascular disease and dementia.
For more about the Alzheimer’s Association research grants program, visit www.alz.org/research.
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