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New model can help predict cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer's

Published on 05/08/19 at 11:33am

Scientists at MIT have developed a new model which can predict whether patients at risk for Alzheimer’s disease will experience clinically significant cognitive decline, by predicting their cognitive test scores up to two years in the future.

The model could be used to improve the selection of candidate drugs and participant cohorts in clinical trials, while also allowing patients to know they might experience rapid cognitive decline in the coming months and years, so they and their loved ones can prepare.

Trials into treatments for Alzheimer’s have been notoriously unsuccessful thus far, with 146 failed attempts to develop new drugs between 1998 and 2017. During that period only four drugs were approved, all of which treat only the symptoms of the disease.

Yet studies suggest that greater success could be brought about by recruiting candidates who are in the early stages of the disease. Clinicians could thus use the model to help select at-risk patients for clinical trials, even before other symptoms emerge.

Oggi Rudovic, a Media Lab researcher, commented: “Accurate prediction of cognitive decline from six to 24 months is critical to designing clinical trials. Being able to accurately predict future cognitive changes can reduce the number of visits the participant has to make, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Apart from helping develop a useful drug, the goal is to help reduce the costs of clinical trials to make them more affordable and done on larger scales.”

Louis Goss

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