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University of Mississippi Medical Center to lead in nationwide NIH-funded Alzheimer's study
Date:7/13/2010

JACKSON, Miss. The University of Mississippi Medical Center and four collaborating academic medical centers have received $26 million from the National Institutes of Health to identify risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and related forms of cognitive decline, said Dr. Thomas Mosley, UMMC professor of geriatric medicine and one of the new study's lead investigators.

The new funding will pay for the ARIC Neurocognitive Study, a comprehensive examination of thousands of patients, which will include detailed neurocognitive testing and brain imaging. The project builds on the influential Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, a large epidemiologic investigation of the risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Using the new exam data and the wealth of information collected during ARIC's 20-plus years, the ARIC Neurocognitive Study is expected to further illuminate causes of dementia, giving researchers a unique window into early physiological changes that eventually culminate in Alzheimer's.

Of particular interest is the role that vascular risk factors including hypertension, diabetes and lifestyle experienced during middle age play in Alzheimer's and cognitive decline later in life.

"The new ARIC Neurocognitive Study will be one for the most comprehensive investigations to date into the role of vascular and related mid-life risk factors in Alzheimer's and cognitive decline," Mosley said.

He believes Alzheimer's disease likely isn't caused by a single factor, but rather by a complex process involving multiple factors interacting and accumulating over decades.

"Understanding the risk factors involved in this complex process may lead to new targets for treatment," he said. "It could also allow us to intervene at an earlier point with people who are at high risk for dementia, a time when preventative treatments may be most effective."

Researchers at UMMC will work with four collaborating
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Contact: Jack Mazurak
jmazurak@umc.edu
601-984-1970
University of Mississippi Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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