Neuroimaging initiative releases genome-wide analysis of Alzheimers disease

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Scientists will be able to search for genes that contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease with the release of data from a high-density genome-wide analysis of participants in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI).

ADNI, an ongoing $60 million project that is more than 95 percent complete, is a public-private partnership supported primarily by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with pharmaceutical and related industries and not-for-profit organizations providing support through the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH).

The initiative involves longitudinal MRI and PET brain imaging and blood, urine and spinal fluid biomarker studies of more than 800 individuals, half of whom have mild cognitive impairment, a condition placing them at high risk for developing Alzheimer's disease or another dementia.

ADNI said its primary goal is to determine whether brain imaging, biological markers, as well as clinical and neuropsychological assessment, can accurately measure the progression of mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer's disease. The identification of specific biomarkers of early Alzheimer's disease and disease progression will provide a useful tool in both the diagnosis of early Alzheimer's disease and in the development, assessment and monitoring of new treatments, according to the project's researchers.

"The release of this genetics data, in combination with the clinical, cognitive, MRI, PET and blood/cerebrospinal fluid data already in the ADNI database, will now allow investigators to explore genetic factors related to the rate of progression of Alzheimer's disease," said ADNI Principal Investigator Michael Weiner, MD, director of the Center for the Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and professor of radiology, medicine, psychiatry and neurology at the University of California, San Francisco.

All data from the ADNI consortium are available to qualified investigators through a web-based database available at

The ADNI genetics study employed the Illumina 610 Quad array with more than 620,000 markers for this investigation. The research team represented a collaborative effort among the Translational Genomics Institute of Phoenix, the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer's Disease, University of California Irvine Brain Imaging Center, the IU Center for Neuroimaging and the 59 ADNI sites.

Support for the genome wide association study was provided by grants through the FNIH, the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) with support contributed by a foundation that prefers to remain anonymous; Merck, Pfizer, and Gene Network Sciences as well as additional in-kind support from NCRAD and Illumina, manufacturer of the gene arrays. Additional support for analysis was provided by Vanda Pharmaceuticals and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.