Personalized neurological fingerprint could increase effectiveness of Alzheimer’s treatment

Written by Natalie Morton, Future Science Group

Researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University (Montreal, Canada) and the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics and Mental Health (Montreal, Canada) have developed a personalized Therapeutic Intervention Fingerprint (pTIF), which is able to determine the potential effectiveness of targeting specific factors, such as brain amyloid, tau deposition and inflammation, within an individual patient.
The use of personalized medicine within neurology is a long-standing aim for researchers and medical professionals alike and this is the first study to be able to draw an association between brain characteristics, gene expression and therapeutic response. Allowing treatments to be determined by their effectiveness, on a patient-by-patient basis, would increase positive treatment outcomes and reduce time and costs wasted on inefficient treatments.

This study, published in NeuroImage, used computational brain modeling and artificial intelligence, as well as various forms of PET and MRI, to build data from 331 individuals including Alzheimer’s patients and a healthy control group.

After analyzing this data and determining the potentially most effective treatments per patient, they split the patients into pTIF subgroups, which correlated with the patients’ genetic profiles. The similarity between the genetic profiles and pTIF subclassifications means that the mechanisms by which the genes control brain physiology must be similar within each patient. This could allow interventions to be chosen based on disease mechanism.

Not only would this affect the way that treatment is prescribed by healthcare professionals, but it could also improve the efficiency of clinical trials, as patients and controls could be chosen according to their pTIF.

Lead author, Yasser Iturria-Medina (Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics), commented: “In keeping with the tenets of personalized medicine, the introduced framework could lead to more effective medical care, decreased undesired secondary effects, and substantial reduction of pharmaceutical/clinical costs associated with clinical trials, thereby accelerating the creation-evaluation cycle of new therapeutic agents.”

Whilst the current study was aimed towards the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers hope that their work on personalized medicine could also be used for other diseases of the brain.

Iturria-Medina concluded: “Our future work will focus on applying the pTIF to other neurological disorders, extensively validating it, and, importantly, making the resulting analytic tools available to the international community, via open-access platforms.”

Source: Iturria-Medina Y, Carbonell FM, Evans AC. Multimodal imaging-based therapeutic fingerprints for optimizing personalized interventions: application to neurodegeneration. NeuroImage, 2018; 179, 40–50 (2018);