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There is increasing interest in using genetic tests and other biomarkers to identify individuals at-risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). One of these biomarkers is a protein called “amyloid” that can build up and form deposits called plaques in the brain. Investigators believe that buildup of amyloid in the brain may play a key role in the later development of AD. Doctors can measure amyloid buildup in the brain using a PET scan, which may be detected many years before cognitive symptoms are apparent. However, given the current limitations of predictive testing and AD treatment capabilities, there is much debate about how and whether to disclose such risk information.
The Risk Evaluation and Education for Alzheimer’s Disease – the Study of Communicating Amyloid Neuroimaging, or REVEAL-SCAN, is the fifth study in a series of multi-site randomized clinical trials. These trials have examined the psychological and behavioral impact of providing AD risk assessment to asymptomatic populations. With sites at Harvard Medical School (Brigham & Women’s Hospital), Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Michigan (U-M), the purpose of this study is to learn about the best ways to communicate educational information about amyloid brain scans to asymptomatic older adults at elevated risk of AD. Data collection for this study is now complete. The data collected from this study is currently being analyzed and papers are being written based on the results.
The REVEAL-SCAN study aims to: (1) examine the impact of learning amyloid imaging results in cognitively normal individuals to determine (2) if an individual’s knowledge of their amyloid biomarker status will bias their thinking and memory and (3) whether such knowledge will prompt beneficial behavior changes or cause adverse psychological consequences.
The REVEAL-SCAN study was funded by an RF1 grant (AG047866) from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Scott Roberts, PhD, Site Principal Investigator; overall project Co-Principal Investigator
Wendy R. Uhlmann, MS, CGC, Co-Investigator and Study Clinician
Rebecca Ferber, MPH, Study Coordinator
Sara Feldman, MPH, Predoctoral Fellow
Nicole Pippard, MPH, Research Associate
Anne Patterson, BS, Research Associate
Roberts JS, Patterson A, Uhlmann W (2020). Genetic testing for neurodegenerative diseases: Ethical and health communication challenges. Neurobiology of Disease, 141. [PMID 32302673]
Roberts JS, Dunn LB, Rabinovici GD (2013). Amyloid imaging, risk disclosure and Alzheimer’s disease: ethical and practical issues. Neurodegenerative Disease Management. 3(3), 219 – 229. PDF.