December 15, 2020
PAR-19-070 - Research on Current Topics in Alzheimer's Disease and Its Related Dementias (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)
PAR-19-071 - Research on Current Topics in Alzheimer's Disease and Its Related Dementias (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
The purpose of this Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) is to encourage applications that propose either basic, clinical, or a combination of basic and clinical studies to investigate how functional changes in the sensory and/or motor systems impact the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies may include older adults and/or animal models and may employ a variety of approaches, including but not limited to cellular, molecular, imaging, physiological, and genetic, to address this need. For clinical studies, leveraging of existing longitudinal cohorts already collecting sensory and motor assessments is highly encouraged.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) continues to be a critical health problem as the aging population grows. Approximately five million Americans age 65 and older suffer from AD, and it is projected that the number of new cases of AD will double by 2025. The neuropathological hallmarks of AD, including amyloid-beta accumulation, tau aggregation and neurofibrillary tangles may accumulate years before the cognitive symptoms become apparent. Based on these observations, intervening prior to detection of cognitive impairment might present an opportunity to modify the disease and decrease the risk of future cognitive decline. To this end, there have been significant efforts to identify and develop reliable biomarkers of early or preclinical AD.
Over the last decade there has been growing interest in non-cognitive functional changes, such as sensory or motor changes, as potential predictors or biomarkers of preclinical AD. Evidence from epidemiological studies suggest that changes in olfaction, audition, and even gait speed may precede the onset of cognitive impairment and dementia by several years. Studies have also shown that sensory and motor regions of the central nervous system (CNS) are affected by AD pathology. For example, AD pathology is found in the olfactory neural networks, visual system neural pathways, and motor neurons of the pyramidal and extrapyramidal motor pathways in AD patients. Additionally, AD pathology has been shown to appear in sensory association areas well before its appearance in regions involving memory, such as the entorhinal and hippocampal areas. However, despite the mounting evidence, sensory and motor changes have not gained much traction as biomarkers of preclinical AD primarily due to their lack of specificity. Sensory and motor changes are very common in healthy aging as well as other neurodegenerative diseases. While some data suggest that assessment of multiple sensory and/or motor modalities in conjunction with other molecular, genetic, or imaging biomarkers may improve the diagnostic accuracy of preclinical AD, more research is needed. Further investigation is also needed to disentangle the sensory and motor changes associated with AD from those associated with healthy aging to harness their potential as early, non-invasive AD biomarkers.
This NOSI encourages applications investigating how functional changes in sensory systems (e.g., olfactory, visual, auditory, somatosensory, gustatory) and/or motor systems impact the development and progression of AD. Applications proposing to distinguish the sensory and/or motor changes associated with early AD from those associated with normal aging are also highly encouraged. Studies may include older adults and/or animal models and may employ a variety of approaches, including cellular, molecular, imaging, physiological, and genetic to address this need. For clinical studies, leveraging of existing longitudinal cohorts already collecting sensory and/or motor assessments is highly encouraged. Studies proposing to establish new cohorts must present a strong justification for why this is needed.
Studies of interest may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Application and Submission Information
This notice applies to due dates on or after March 11, 2021 and subsequent receipt dates through November 13, 2021.
Submit applications for this initiative using one of the following funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) or any reissues of these announcement through the expiration date of this notice.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the funding opportunity announcement used for submission must be followed, with the following additions:
Applications nonresponsive to terms of this NOSI will not be considered for the NOSI initiative.
Coryse St. Hillaire-Clarke, Ph.D.
National Institute on Aging (NIA)