MRI to predict dementia in Parkinson’s disease

Status: Complete
Year: 2014
Funded: $64,793
Grant Type: Major Project Grant

Though no treatments are currently available, there is a need to detect individuals at high risk of cognitive decline, which will then allow them to be targeted in forthcoming therapeutic trials. We have collected an extensive database of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans and cognitive measures in people with PD. In this project, we will re-assess individuals 6 years after their initial assessment with detailed neuropsychological testing, allowing us to diagnose dementia. We will then employ a sophisticated mathematical model that will use the MRI scans (acquired at the initial assessment) to predict future development of dementia (6 years after the initial assessment). This would facilitate the identification of patients at imminent risk of developing cognitive impairments so they can be appropriately targeted in forthcoming therapeutic trials.

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.

Researcher // Dr Tracy Melzer – University of Otago

Dr 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 Dr Tracy Melzer

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