Areas of investigation/research focus
Our focus is on clinical dementia research. We aim to improve early diagnosis and treatment of dementia with special emphasis on Alzheimer's disease (AD), to evaluate new technologies in real word environments and to involve patients and caregivers in the innovation process.
The first research line aims to transfer diagnostic and intervention concepts from the phase of methodological development through experimental settings into routine care. AD biomarkers are currently being used in specialized care to increase prediction accuracy for in prodromal stages (prognostic biomarkers), and to differentiate AD from non-AD dementias (diagnostic biomarkers). In the near future, we will need case finding for secondary preventive treatments (theranostic biomarkers). Assessing the effectivity and efficiency of such markers requires their evaluation not only in highly selected samples but also in patients from routine care.The second research line aims to develop and implement information and communication technologies, such as wearable sensors and dense (environmental) sensing, as patient-powered real world endpoints for clinical studies to monitor neurodegenerative disease progression and intervention effects. This research line adds a vertical dimension to the horizontal dimension for extending clinical studies to routine care and provides access to broader patient populations for a novel type of phase 4 and 5 (disease control) clinical studies.
Results of diagnostic and intervention trials in specialized care cannot be easily transferred into primary care due to the potential bias through systematic selection. In an international phase 3 study, we developed and evaluated a harmonized protocol for hippocampus measurement from MRI scans and extended this harmonized protocol towards automated volumetry. We established imaging biomarkers in phase 3 studies using multicenter data (EDSD, PsyMRI) and conducted a phase 4 diagnostic trial to determine the diagnostic accuracy of MRI based volumetry in primary care. We also explore novel molecular imaging modalities, including amyloid- and tau-sensitive PET.
A technical assistance system can provide suitable support for mobility outside the home; we examined the technical feasibility of a subsidiary assistance system for mobility (SiNDeM), and an expert system to support caregivers of people with dementia (InsideDem). Currently, we are developing a sensor-based personal activity management assistant (SAMi). A key approach is participatory innovation, where patient and caregivers are involved already in the design process of a new technology development.
Complementing the dementia care management of the DelpHi-MV trial we study feasibility, effectiveness, implementation and adoption of patient and caregiver-centered interventions in cooperation with the German Alzheimer’s Association, section Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania (AA-MV).