Stopping Alzheimer’s before it starts

This week the Dutch project ABOARD (A personalized medicine approach for Alzheimer’s disease), a collaboration of more than thirty partners, among which the Alzheimer Centrum Groningen, has been launched. ABOARD aims to prepare for a future in which Alzheimer’s disease is stopped before dementia has started. ABOARD achieves this by improving diagnostic markers, developing personalised risk scores and by focusing on prevention through increased awareness of dementia and brain health.

In the Netherlands, almost 300.000 individuals are living with dementia, a number that grows by 20.000 every year. Dementia is one of the largest health care challenges of our century. Dementia is largely caused by Alzheimer’s disease, for which there is no cure yet. To lower the number of individuals with dementia, ABOARD focuses on the alzheimer-stages before dementia onset.

Prevention is the key

Wiesje van der Flier, principal investigator of ABOARD and scientific director of the Alzheimer Center Amsterdam commented: “We now know that Alzheimer’s develops over a period of twenty to thirty years. And there is the key to finding solutions: intervening before the disease manifests clinically. We need to reach people at risk of getting the disease. And those people are all of us, actually. That is why we want to increase the awareness of Alzheimer’s among the general public. In addition, we take the necessary steps to prepare for a future in which personalised medicine is possible. Sharing knowledge about ways to boost your brain health and supporting people with Alzheimer’s is also a part of this project. There is still a lot of work to do.”

Predict the disease course

ABOARD researchers are going to develop tests that allow for an early and precise diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. These tests must identify the first brain changes, and they need to recognise variability between patients. Based on these tests, we develop personalised risk profiles to predict individual disease trajectories. Barbara van Munster, professor of geriatric medicine at the UMCG, is involved in the research: "An important focus of the research is to arrive at a personalized approach to diagnostics and a treatment with tailor-made care. The patient is explicitly involved in all aspects of his or her illness and its treatment. "


Stopping Alzheimer’s before the onset of dementia

The ABOARD-consortium brings together over 30 partners, among which the among which the Alzheimer Centrum Groningen and four other Dutch Alzheimer centres and patient organisation Alzheimer Nederland. Public and private parties across the entire knowledge chain work together: from universities to care and knowledge institutions, civil society organisations and businesses.

Alzheimercentrum Groningen

The UMCG Alzheimercentrum Groningen is one of the five centers of expertise in the field of dementia in the Netherlands. This is where complicated Alzheimer's diagnostics take place. It is a knowledge center for everyone in the Northern Netherlands who is involved in the care of patients with Alzheimer's en in scientific research in the field of Alzheimer's.