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NIH consortium takes aim at vascular disease-linked cognitive impairment and dementia

MarkVCID brings team science approach to small vessel disease biomarkers in the brain.

To better predict, study, and diagnose small vessel disease in the brain and its role in vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID), the National Institutes of Health has launched MarkVCID, a consortium designed to accelerate the development of new and existing biomarkers for small vessel VCID.

The five-year program, developed by the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), in collaboration with the National Institute on Aging (NIA), consists of seven research groups across the United States working together via a coordinating center based at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. A kick-off meeting for the consortium was held immediately prior to the International Stroke Conference 2017 in Houston, Feb. 20-21.

Steven M. Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Hemorrhagic Stroke Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital will serve as the project leader for the MarkVCID Coordinating Center.

VCID impacts millions of people in the United States, as a part of clinical Alzheimer’s disease and in other diagnoses. Because small vessel VCID progresses over time, it is a prime candidate for treatment. However, the changes that occur are highly difficult to detect, in particular at early stages of the disease when intervention might be most successful.

Currently, individual groups are using several noninvasive biomarker candidates based on MRI scans, fluid analysis, or other physiological measurements. However, it is necessary that they be standardized and validated before they can be applied to clinical trials and eventually everyday settings. The purpose of the consortium is to take candidate biomarkers through these next steps.

Projects in EPSCoR states that are supported by markVCID include: 

  • Microglial, inflammatory, and omics markers of cerebral small vessel disease in the charge consortium -- Russell P. Tracy, Ph.D., University of Vermont 
  • MRI and CSF biomarkers of white matter injury in VCID -- Gary Allen Rosenberg, M.D., University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
  • Small vessel disease biomarkers in a longitudinally-followed “stroke belt” cohort -- Donna M. Wilcock, Ph.D., Gregory A. Jicha, M.D., Ph.D., University of Kentucky
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