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The Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN) study

The Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network is an international collaborative study led by Professor John Morris, a leading Alzheimer’s researcher at Washington University, St Louis, Missouri and includes study sites in the USA, Australia, England and Germany. The Australian sites are Sydney (at NeuRA), Melbourne and Perth.

The DIAN study aims to find biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease that are detectable long before the initial clinical symptoms. Participants undergo brain scans and clinical assessments and provide blood and spinal fluid for research. Initial results were very encouraging and were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July 2012: http://www.nejm.org/doi/abstract/10.1056/NEJMoa1202753.

People can join the DIAN study if they have a parent, or a brother or sister, with a genetic mutation causing early onset Alzheimer’s disease. We know about 20 families in Australia who have early onset Alzheimer’s disease due to one of these mutations. No doubt other families await discovery. If your family has had several members affected by Alzheimer’s disease, particularly over several generations, it may be worth looking to see whether there is a genetic mutation involved.

DIAN has now completed its first 6-year funding cycle and has been refunded by the US National Institute on Aging for 2014 – 2019. In addition, DIAN has begun clinical trials of drugs to see if they can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms in family members who are at risk. The first trial, DIAN-TU-001, has begun in Australia with sites in Melbourne and Perth as well as at NeuRA. Several participants have already been enrolled and begun the trial medications, which are given either by intravenous infusion or subcutaneous injection every four weeks for two years. Detailed information about the trial is available from the US online clinical trials registry here.

If this research may be relevant to you or your family, please contact Dr Bill Brooks at NeuRA on 02 9399 1101, mobile 0414 358 392, or email w.brooks@neuRA.edu.au.