AlzForum (March 3, 2017): Consortium to Seek Biomarkers for Vascular Cognitive Impairment

Publication Date: 
Fri, 03/03/2017

Even though vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia and the most frequent co-morbidity with Alzheimer’s disease, researchers still have no reliable way to detect and track it. To fill this gap, the National Institutes of Health has inaugurated a new consortium to identify and validate biomarkers that reflect vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID). The five-year project, dubbed MarkVCID, will be coordinated by scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital, under the guidance of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA). “The goal is to deliver a suite of validated biomarkers that are ready to be incorporated into clinical trials,” project leader Steven Greenberg at MGH told Alzforum.  MarkVCID grew out of the goals set by the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), said Roderick Corriveau at NINDS. NAPA takes on AD-related dementias such as VCID, and at summits on this topic in 2012 and 2016, scientists singled out biomarkers as a pressing need for research (see Apr 2016 conference newsApr 2016 conference news). Better biomarkers would allow early detection of VCID, help select trial participants at greatest risk of progression, and indicate that treatments are working as expected, Greenberg noted.

As a result of the summits, NINDS and NIA invited proposals and co-funded seven projects. Awards for the first year total $6.8 million, and come in the form of cooperative “U” grants, in which NIH investigators help guide the science. Corriveau said the research will focus on the contribution to VCID of small vessel disease, the type of vascular disease most frequently seen in AD. Small vessels include arterioles, capillaries, and venules.

Initially, the consortium will investigate and standardize promising candidate biomarkers, a phase expected to take about two years.