New Research Seeks to Uncover Link Between Vascular Disease, Dementia

The MarkVID consortium will explore biomarkers that could treat small vessel cognitive impairment and dementia.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently launched MarkVCID, a consortium to study small vessel diseases of the brain, and how they may be linked to vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID).

The MarkVID 5-year program was developed to improve current biomarkers used for small vessel VCID, and discover novel biomarkers that may lead to effective treatments. This project is a collaboration between the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and 7 research teams, according to a press release.

“We have brought together a number of outstanding research groups to further develop and validate candidate biomarkers for cerebral small vessel disease,” said Steven M. Greenberg, MD, PhD, project leader for the MarkVCID Coordinating Center. “This will be achieved by identifying and focusing on the most promising biomarkers across the research sites.”

VCID affects millions of Americans, with some developing Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions. Since small vessel VCID worsens over time, early treatment is crucial. However, the changes can be difficult to detect, especially during early stages when intervention would be the most successful, according to the NIH.

Individual research teams are currently using multiple biomarker candidates derived from MRI scans, fluid analysis, and other physiological measurements to determine disease progression. The goal of the new consortium is to validate candidate biomarkers so they can be advanced to clinical trials and eventually used in clinical settings, the NIH reported.

In the second phase of the project, the teams will communicate their findings to better determine the most successful and promising biomarkers. This phase is expected to start in 2 years.

Included in the consortium will be teams of investigators from the University of California, Johns Hopkins University, the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Rush University Medical Center, Boston University Medical Campus, the University of Southern California, and the University of Kentucky.

“The team-based approach taken by the consortium allows us to study candidate biomarkers across different clinical settings at multiple institutions,” said Roderick Corriveau, PhD, program director, NINDS. “Ultimately, we hope to develop a gold standard to identify cerebral small vessel disease early enough to intervene with treatment.”