Italy launches pioneering project to identify Alzheimer's risk

December 6, 2017

Italy on Wednesday launched a pioneering programme to identify people with the highest risk of developing Alzheimer's in the hopes of treating them early, as the country waits for a new wave of more effective drugs.

The screening project known as "Interceptor" aims to better determine who will most benefit from these future treatments, which are expected to be costly and have significant side effects.

"Alzheimer's is a global problem that needs to be, if not solved, at least managed with maximum urgency," Italian Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin said in presenting the programme.

According to Lorenzin, one million people in Italy suffer from dementia, with 600,000 having Alzheimer's.

"These numbers will rise in Europe and in developed countries as the population ages," she added.

With an average age of 44 years and nine months as of 2016, Italy has the oldest population in Europe and the world's second-oldest after Japan.

That prompted Italy's government to take the lead in preparing for more effective drugs expected in 2025, the minister said.

Interceptor researchers will study patients with (MCI), which can affect memory and language skills and is often a precursor to dementia or Alzheimer's.

Project supervisor Paolo Maria Rossini said that of the 735,000 Italians who currently have MCI, half will develop Alzheimer's.

"To give this medicine to more than 700,000 people would bankrupt the system in two years," Rossini said.

Interceptor then aims to identify the 50 percent of Italians with the highest risk of developing the disease.

The EU country has committed 3.5 million euros ($4.1 million) to the 54-week project, which will follow 400 volunteer patients with MCI aged between 50 and 85.

"We will be the first country in the world to have such measures in place before the first is introduced," Rossini said.

More than 50 drugs are being developed in the hopes of slowing down or stopping Alzheimer's, a syndrome in which cognitive ability, emotional control, and social behaviour deteriorate.

The World Health Organization estimates that a new case of the incurable disease is diagnosed every four seconds.

Explore further: Delayed word processing could predict patients' potential to develop Alzheimer's disease

Related Stories

Delayed word processing could predict patients' potential to develop Alzheimer's disease

October 20, 2017
A delayed neurological response to processing the written word could be an indicator that a patient with mild memory problems is at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, research led by the University of Birmingham ...

Study ranks safety, effectiveness of cognitive enhancers for Alzheimer's

September 29, 2017
A new study ranking the safety and effectiveness of four drugs taken to enhance concentration, memory, alertness and moods, found that donepezil was most likely to effectively improve cognition in patients with Alzheimer's ...

Hearing loss linked to early memory and thinking problems

July 17, 2017
Researchers at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2017 have suggested that people with a family history of Alzheimer's disease who experience hearing loss, are more likely to also experience a decline in ...

Less fluent speech could be a sign of early memory problems

July 17, 2017
Researchers in the US have found that people with very mild memory and thinking problems also show changes in their everyday speech.

More than half of persons with Alzheimer's disease aged 90 years or more use psychotropic drugs

October 3, 2016
Psychotropic drug use is rather common among persons aged 90 years or more diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, compared with those who were diagnosed at younger age, concludes a study conducted at the University of Eastern ...

Five million american seniors now living with alzheimer's

March 8, 2017
(HealthDay)—Alzheimer's disease claims nearly twice as many American lives annually as it did just 15 years ago, according to the 2017 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, published March 7 by the Alzheimer's Association.

Recommended for you

Many cases of dementia may arise from non-inherited DNA 'spelling mistakes'

October 15, 2018
Only a small proportion of cases of dementia are thought to be inherited—the cause of the vast majority is unknown. Now, in a study published today in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists led by researchers ...

Study suggests biological basis for depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances in older adults

October 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers, in collaboration with the unique Brazilian Biobank for Aging Studies (BBAS) at the University of São Paulo, have shown that the earliest stages of the brain degeneration associated with Alzheimer's ...

Scientists create new map of brain region linked to Alzheimer's disease

October 8, 2018
Curing some of the most vexing diseases first requires navigating the world's most complex structure—the human brain. So, USC scientists have created the most detailed atlas yet of the brain's memory bank.

Previously unknown genetic aberrations found to be associated with Alzheimer's progression

October 8, 2018
In a large-scale analysis of RNA from postmortem human brain tissue, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Columbia University have identified specific RNA splicing events associated with Alzheimer's ...

Periodontal disease bacteria may kick-start Alzheimer's

October 4, 2018
Long-term exposure to periodontal disease bacteria causes inflammation and degeneration of brain neurons in mice that is similar to the effects of Alzheimer's disease in humans, according to a new study from researchers at ...

AI could predict cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer's disease in the next five years

October 4, 2018
A team of scientists has successfully trained a new artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to make accurate predictions regarding cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer's disease.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.