Clinical tracking of cognition on Parkinson’s Disease
Approximately 10,000 New Zealanders are affected by the debilitating movement limitations from Parkinson’s disease (PD). We now know that many, though not all, PD patients eventually also develop dementia, which then becomes the most burdensome aspect of this progressive condition. Though no treatments have been proven to prevent dementia, it is vital that we identify reliable biological markers of disease status and progression. This would facilitate the identification of patients at imminent risk of developing cognitive impairments so they can be appropriately targeted in forthcoming therapeutic trials. However, clinically useful markers do not currently exist. Using advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, our NZ-based multidisciplinary team has identified both structure and blood flow differences associated with Parkinson’s disease that may provide effective markers of cognitive impairment at a given point in time. This project aims to accurately characterize and track changes seen in MRI brain scans taken only one year apart, to determine whether change in these markers can track disease progression over a relatively short time, ultimately providing objective markers for future treatment studies.
Associate Professor Melzer is involved in a wide range of neurological research, including child development, mild traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, neurodegenerative diseases, and more. As a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Medicine, his primary focus is on the development and application of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques to advance our understanding of cognitive decline in Parkinson’s disease.More About Associate Professor Tracy Melzer