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2010 Grants - Xu
Detecting the Cerebral Vascular Function Deficits Associated with Alzheimer's Disease
Guofan Xu, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
2010 New Investigator Research Grant
Currently, Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed using cognitive tests, which are unable to detect the disease until the brain has already experienced significant loss of function. Detection of the disease at its early stages may allow more successful treatment to slow or halt the loss of brain function.
Guofan Xu, Ph.D., and colleagues are working to develop a sensitive method for detecting early stages of Alzheimer's disease using measurements of brain blood flow. Blood circulation in the brain closely follows changes in demand, which is determined by brain activity. Thus, when nerve cell function begins to decline in a region of the brain, it is expected that changes in blood flow will also occur. Dr. Xu and colleagues are developing highly sensitive and specific methods using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect subtle changes in blood flow in different parts of the brain. They are also studying how changes in brain blood flow relate to changes in brain performance measured using behavioral tests.
The researchers plan to perform MRI brain scans in 200 individuals, including healthy older adults, individuals with Alzheimer's disease and individuals with mild cognitive impairment, a milder form of neurodegeneration that sometimes precedes Alzheimer's disease. These studies may lead to the development of sensitive and reliable methods to diagnose early stages of Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment.