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Alzheimer’s Association and National Institute on Aging release new research framework towards a biological definition of Alzheimer’s disease

Tuesday 10 April 2018

On 10 April, a group of international academic, advocacy, government and industry experts published an update on the 2011 NIA-AA (National Institute on Aging - Alzheimer’s Association) workgroup recommendations in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

The update is a renewed unification of the 2011 recommendations, intended to be in line with today’s understanding of the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) continuum. The team presented drafts online and at various scientific meetings such as the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2017, to gather feedback and ideas that informed the published document.

Leaving room for biomarkers in future, the framework defines AD by brain changes including three groups of biomarkers; beta amyloid deposition, pathologic tau and neurodegeneration but not symptoms. This system could potentially help moving research towards personalised medicine to tailor future treatments more targeted to individuals.

One of the major changes from the 2011 recommendations is that the publication is not meant for general clinical practice since it needs further testing. Its intention is to act as “research framework” for the scientific community towards the development of a biologically based definition of AD, rather than guidelines or diagnostic criteria.


NIA commentary: