DIAN-TU is testing experimental treatments and diagnostic approaches in people who have a 50/50 chance of inheriting a gene mutation that causes Alzheimer's disease by middle age.

Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network Trials Unit (DIAN-TU) — FULLY FUNDED

Principal investigator Randall Bateman, M.D.

Converging evidence suggests experimental Alzheimer's treatments may be most effective if given before the first outward signs of dementia appear. Researchers are now testing this hypothesis on people for whom an effective intervention holds special urgency: individuals with a 50/50 chance of inheriting a gene mutation that causes Alzheimer's disease by middle age. Thanks to generous donor support, the Alzheimer's Association provided funding that launched a groundbreaking study of two anti-amyloid medications three years before federal dollars became available.

"Alzheimer's disease onset is predictable for this population, so we should be able to tell relatively quickly whether the drugs are having an impact," says Dr. Randall Bateman, who leads the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network Trials Unit (DIAN-TU). His team is hopeful medications that work for people with younger-onset familial Alzheimer's will also work for people with the more common late-onset form because the disease appears to progress in a similar way no matter how it starts.

In 2016, thanks again to generous philanthropists, the Association awarded an additional grant of 4.3 million to enable DIAN-TU Next Generation (NexGen). This funding adds two new drug candidates to the two already being tested. It also supports the inclusion of new approaches to diagnosing Alzheimer's that would enable earlier and more accurate detection of the disease if proven to be effective:

  • Tau PET Imaging — This brain imaging technique uses positron emission tomography (PET) to visualize another hallmark of Alzheimer's, tau tangles. Past research suggests that tau PET imaging may help determine where the process of damage and death of brain cells begins and how it progresses to cause the symptoms of Alzheimer's. Including this technique in the DIAN-TU NexGen trial will enable researchers to evaluate its ability to serve as a marker for the presence and progression of the disease, and for evaluating effectiveness of potential treatments.
  • Home-based and Increased Frequency of Cognitive Testing — This component will assess whether more frequent cognitive testing and the use of self-administered at-home cognitive assessments can better detect subtle cognitive changes over the currently used methods. If proven, this approach may eventually be used in the early detection of Alzheimer's so that a disease-modifying treatment, once available, can be given earlier in the disease process and provide better benefits.

This Project Advances:


Discovery Science


Early Detection





Learn more about the key outcome areas >

Step Up the Pace is a special initiative to increase philanthropic investment in four key dementia research outcomes areas: Discovery Science, Early Detection, Treatment and Prevention.


Email: leadershipgiving@alz.org
Phone: 800.272.3900
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