Identifying reliable biomarkers is essential for improving secondary prevention of various dementia. There are currently no disease modifying or restorative treatments for cognitive decline in any dementia, and this means that identifying tractable biological variables which can lead to improved prevention and/or more efficient diagnosis is a public health priority. The majority of medical treatments have focused on slowing the accumulation and/or accelerating the clearance of pathological amyloid-beta plaques, with effectively no success, and therefore it is important to consider the roles of multiple biomarkers1. This highlights the importance of the biomarker working group, which will foster collaborations, training and contribute to understanding in key areas of biomarker research.
Potential biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease include a variety of sources e.g. serum blood, urine, cerebrospinal fluid or plasma, and the risk of disease onset conferred by age is likely due to some correlated ‘biological’ ageing indexed by these. It would benefit diagnosis and drug target design to have a better understanding of biomarkers which are reliably associated with progression from cognitive health to mild impairment and subsequent decline, with ideally high sensitivity and specificity.
Current neuroimaging biomarkers for non-Alzheimer’s dementia are expensive and they are not routinely used in clinical settings in the UK. There is no reliable biological fluid based biomarker for aiding diagnosis of non-Alzheimer dementias. Early and accurate subtyping of non-Alzheimer dementias is essential for formulating appropriate multidisciplinary management plans. Hence, there is an urgent clinical need for identifying reliable multimodal diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for non-Alzheimer dementias.
There is a tremendous range of biomarkers available to dementia researchers. The biomarkers group will help researchers develop analysis strategies, build multi-omic models, support access to secondary cohorts and foster collaborations to build on expertise, in order to bring biomarker data to usable public health value.