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NIH Recommends Precision Medicine Approach to Treat Alzheimer’s

NIH gathered healthcare experts to discuss how to best accelerate Alzheimer’s treatment with precision medicine, big data analytics, and stakeholder collaboration.

NIH recommends a precision medicine approach to treat Alzheimer's

Source: Thinkstock

By Jessica Kent

- Precision medicine, big data analytics, and stakeholder collaboration could improve treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, according to recommendations from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The recommendations were the result of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit 2018: Path to Treatment and Prevention, convened by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of NIH.

More than 80 leading experts from government, academia, industry, and non-profit organizations gathered to guide continued efforts to build a collaborative, multi-stakeholder research environment capable of delivering urgently needed cures for people at all stages of Alzheimer’s.

The research recommendations were built upon the efforts of previous summits held in 2012 and 2015, and centered around several key topics, including precision medicine research.

Stakeholders said that precision medicine research must be used to develop interventions that will address the underlying disease process and symptoms and be tailored to a person’s unique disease profile.

To accomplish this, experts recommended that researchers work to ensure that epidemiologic studies represent current and future projected population trends, and that studies should include new cohorts from across diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

The group also stated that researchers should accelerate the genomic analysis of diverse cohorts and special populations and prioritize the analysis of cohorts from special populations.  

Recommendations also focused on leveraging big data approaches to accelerate discovery of early markers of Alzheimer’s, better track disease treatment, and ensure the delivery of quality care.

Stakeholders said that researchers should build secure, high-frequency data-capture platforms to enable the continuous monitoring of research participants along the disease trajectory.

Experts also suggested that researchers update the data governance and infrastructure of existing cohorts to leverage data accessibility and usability.

Additionally, the group suggested that researchers establish and maintain cloud-based resources for sharing and storing data to allow other investigators to use the same methods.

Recommendations centered on stakeholder collaboration as well. Experts said that stakeholders from across the care continuum should come together to build a new research ecosystem based on the principles of open science.

Summit attendees said that there should be industry and academic partnerships in which stakeholders can share data to improve Alzheimer’s treatment.

Enabling public-private partnerships could allow stakeholders to use existing cohorts and develop new cohorts that will inform drug development for Alzheimer’s disease, the experts said.

These recommendations were considered and adopted by the National Advisory Council on Aging, NIH reports.

They will be used to update and expand specific milestones for the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, created in 2012.

The Plan aims to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias by 2025 by optimizing care quality and efficiency, enhancing public awareness and engagement, and tracking progress to drive improvement.

These new recommendations will add to NIH’s efforts to develop innovative therapies for Alzheimer’s and related diseases and will contribute to their work to prevent these conditions.

“This is a critical time in Alzheimer's research, with new opportunities to build upon what we have learned,” said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, MD.

“We must continue to foster creative approaches that leverage emerging scientific and technological advances, establish robust translational infrastructure for rapid and broad sharing of data and research tools, and work with funding partners and other stakeholders to cultivate and sustain an open science research ecosystem.”

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