The way researchers define Alzheimer’s disease is changing. A new framework put forth by the National Institute of Aging (NIA) and Alzheimer’s Association (AA) will now focus on biologically-based criteria as opposed to clinical symptoms and provides researchers with a common language to communicate their findings.
Using this definition, researchers will be able to classify patients into 8 categories based on three groups of biomarkers: beta-amyloid, tau and neurodegeneration/neuronal injury. This classification recognizes the continuum of neuropathologic changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease and could help evolve our understanding of the sequence of events leading to cognitive impairment and dementia. This ultimately could improve the approach taken towards testing new therapies and help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in clinically asymptomatic patients.
This framework will be applied to observational and interventional research, and will continue to be updated as new knowledge becomes available. At this time it is too premature to apply these definitions to routine clinical care. We look forward to seeing the evolution of Alzheimer’s disease research based on these updates and hope they help bring us one step closer to attaining the goal of finding a treatment by 2025!
A copy of the NIA-AA’s new research framework can be found here.