Alzheimer’s disease is by far the leading cause of dementia worldwide, affecting millions of people and their families and representing a significant burden on healthcare systems. Mild Cognitive Impairment is an intermediate stage between normal aging and dementia and is considered a critical period for early intervention in the face of potential Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers now know that recognizing the type of mild cognitive impairment allows better anticipation of this devastating disease.
Researchers from the IMPACT Center and Clínica Universidad de los Andes are developing a clinical study in search of a better prediction of the development of this severe disease. “This research will make it possible to advance towards an early diagnosis of the type of mild cognitive impairment that is most likely to progress to Alzheimer’s disease, a type of disorder known as amnestic,” explains Úrsula Wyneken, principal investigator of IMPACT and professor at UANDES.
Patients from the COSAM Mental Health Center of La Reina voluntarily participate in this clinical study, coordinated by IMPACT nurse Dominga Berríos. “This study aims to diagnose mild cognitive impairment and amnestic and non-amnestic subtypes through a new diagnostic strategy based on a cellular response. It is important to be able to differentiate these types since the amnestic subtype is a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease and the non-amnestic subtype could progress to different neurodegenerative disorders. This is very interesting since, knowing this, people can obtain a more accurate diagnosis and thus be able to make more precise interventions according to their needs. The participants are recruited at the Clinic of the Universidad de Los Andes and at the COSAM of La Reina where they are given neurocognitive tests and a blood sample is taken for later analysis”, she explains.
For the La Reina COSAM director, Elsa Jara, this clinical study is an excellent opportunity for patients. “First, it offers them participation, which is the most important of all the axes of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), which are the guidelines that guide us to make socio-community interventions from the health system. For patients, coming to a community space where they interact with academia, research, and the university, is a plus of motivation for them. And in clinical terms, having the possibility of participating, of knowing, for us as a team, it is also a tremendous challenge to plan interventions that are timely for the patients, in terms of being able to mitigate the effects of the diseases, in this case, Alzheimer’s disease. It is to be able to know a future diagnosis and to be able to intervene to mitigate it. It is positive in every way you look at it,” he says.
Regarding the progress of the research, the academic Úrsula Wyneken assures that: “The participation of COSAM La Reina is a unique contribution in two aspects: first, it allows to increase the number of recruited patients who have an accurate diagnosis based on the application of a series of diagnostic instruments by qualified professionals, and second, it allows to extend the spectrum of patients in terms of different socioeconomic and geographical levels”.
On the other hand, the study coordinator explains that “the participants and their families have been very willing to participate in this study; I think they understand the importance of carrying out this research for the benefit of society and how their participation will contribute to improving the diagnosis of these pathologies that currently carry a great personal, family and social burden,” says Dominga Berríos.