Half of patients could be diagnosed a year earlier than current clinical practice
A software tool called PredictAD developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of
Finland promises to enable earlier diagnosis of the disease on the basis of
patient measurements and large databases. Alzheimer’s disease currently takes
on average 20 months to diagnose in Europe. VTT has shown that the new method
could allow as many as half of patients to get a diagnosis approximately a
VTT has been studying whether patients suffering from memory problems could be
diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at an earlier stage in the light of their
measurement values. The study involved processing patient measurements using
VTT’s PredictAD system, which was developed to support clinical
decision-making. The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s
Disease in November 2012.
VTT has developed a novel approach for measuring the state of the patient
reliably and objectively in cooperation with clinicians of University of
Eastern Finland and Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet. The system
compares the patient’s measurements with measurements of other patients in
large databases and provides an index and a graphical representation
reflecting the state of the patient. Modern hospitals have huge data reserves
that could be utilised in diagnostics by systematic mathematical modelling.
Successful early diagnostics combined with new forms of care may reduce
suffering and delay the institutionalisation of patients.
VTT’s decision support system and imaging methods developed by VTT and
Imperial College London were studied using ADNI material compiled in the
United States. The study covered the records of a total of 288 patients
suffering from memory problems, 140 of whom were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
disease on average 21 months after the initial measurements.
The study showed that half of the patients could have been given a diagnosis
of Alzheimer’s disease around a year earlier. The accuracy of the predictions
was comparable to clinical diagnosis. Treatments designed to slow down the
progress of the disease could therefore be started earlier.
Early prediction of the disease is also important from the perspective of drug
trials. If patients whose disease is still in the early stages can be included
in trials, the treatment can be expected to be more effective.
The method will be tested at several memory clinics in Europe over the next
few years. VTT’s goal is to expand the method to also cover several other
illnesses that cause dementia in addition to Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause for dementia. It was estimated
that there were 35.6 million people living with dementia worldwide in 2010,
and that the number will rise to 65.7 million by 2030. The estimated costs of
dementia were 604 billion USD worldwide in 2010. About 70% of the costs are
made Western Europe and North America. Dementia accounts for about 1% of the
world’s gross domestic product. (Alzheimer’s Disease Int., 2010) http://www.alz.co.uk/research/world-report
Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the USA, and the only major
disease where mortality is still on the rise. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_and_figures.asp#quickfacts
Scientific article in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 32:4.
Mattila J, Soininen H, Koikkalainen J, Rueckert D, Wolz R, Waldemar G,
Lötjönen J; for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Optimizing
the diagnosis of early Alzheimer's disease in mild cognitive impairment
subjects. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;32(4):969-79. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-120934. http://iospress.metapress.com/content/81h2t67710622437/?p=1a783f40934d41b1b0ebfe2ce284ed01&pi=2