DIAN – An international collaboration into early-onset Alzheimer’s

The Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN) Observational Study is an international, multi-site collaboration project led by Washington University running since 2008.

DIAN aims to identify the biological changes that occur in the development of Alzheimer’s disease to improve early diagnosis and track the progression of the disease. This study collects samples and data from adults who have a parent with a known inheritable, genetic mutation for Alzheimer’s disease causing a young-onset, familial type of the disease.

Among other things, researchers measure the amount of abnormal amyloid in the brain and spinal fluid, changes in brain size, and brain metabolism. Participants undergo genetic testing, and brain imaging and provide blood and spinal fluid samples.

Researchers are able to track the progression of various factors of participants who are known to carry the hereditary gene. This approach enhances confidence that observed pathological progression and potential cognitive decline directly result from the disease, contributing to more accurate and targeted research outcomes.

There are 23 sites worldwide, with two Australian sites; one in Perth and one in Sydney. All results are stored in the DIAN Central Archive, an international database that allows qualified researchers to access and analyse the information.

Alzheimer’s Research Australia contributes to the DIAN project by providing clinical research facilities for participants to visit for their regular assessments in Perth.

The impact

The global registry allows families and researchers to connect. By observing participants over time, researchers learn how Alzheimer’s disease progresses and find ways to treat and prevent the disease.