During the recent National Institutes of Health AD conference—AD: Setting the Research Agenda a Century after Auguste D.—nearly 200 leading investigators interspersed a series of presentations with lively discussion sessions. Organizers chose this important centennial anniversary of Dr. Alzheimer’s presentation of the case of Auguste D. at a scientific meeting to ask speakers to provide an overview of the status of current research from their particular perspectives and to articulate the critical questions and issues that need to be addressed for continued progress in AD research.
The National Institute on Aging, which leads the federal effort supporting AD research, will use these insights and recommendations to guide its plans and priorities over the next few years.
Presenters discussed familiar topics, such as the role of beta-amyloid and tau, the use of animal models, genetic and environmental risk and protective factors, the relationship between AD pathology and clinical manifestations, neuroimaging, neuropsychological evaluations, drug development, and clinical trials.
They also focused on emerging areas of interest, such as vascular mechanisms at work in AD, the relationship of normal age-related changes to changes in AD, the use of biomarkers to track disease progression, common mechanisms among neurodegenerative diseases, and the role of neural networks in modulating the effects of AD pathology.
The presentations, discussions, and recommendations reflected a growing appreciation among these experts of just how complex a disease AD is. Many factors interact over many years to cause the development of AD, and as a result, it is likely that multiple approaches will be necessary to manage, treat, and prevent the disease.
The conference was cosponsored by the Neuroscience and Neuropsychology of Aging program of the NIA, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and the National Institute of Nursing Research.