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2006 Grant - Zhang
Diffusion Tensor MRI Analysis for Early Detection of Alzheimer's Disease
Jun Zhang, Ph.D.
University of Kentucky Research Foundation
2006 New Investigator Research Grant
Diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is primarily based on assessments of memory and thinking skills. A large effort in dementia research is to identify new diagnostic methods that would enable clinicians to diagnose the disease before the cognitive symptoms become detectable.
The earliest stages of Alzheimer's may involve subtle changes in the brain's white matter. White matter is a kind of complex "wiring system" connecting nerve cells in different brain regions with one another.
Jun Zhang, Ph.D., and colleagues propose to image and analyze white matter in the brains of people with early-stage Alzheimer's disease and people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is a disorder generally defined as a measurable decline in memory with no other dementia symptoms. Dr. Zhang's team will use diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI) scans and computer programs to create detailed images of white matter fibers. They will focus much of their analysis on particular fibers that are believed to become altered during early stages of MCI.
An effective imaging tool may not only lead to earlier diagnoses but also aid the development of treatments designed to halt or slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease at an early stage.