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NIH Establishes Consortium for Small Vessel Dementia Biomarker Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health has announced the establishment of the Small Vessel Vascular Contributions to Cognitive Impairment and Dementia (VCID) Biomarkers Consortium — a network of research organizations focused on developing biomarkers for key vascular processes related to VCID in Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.

To get the effort underway, the NIH has also earmarked roughly $5.8 million in fiscal year 2016 funding to support the creation of a coordinating center for the consortium, as well as a handful of research grants to further its mission. 

VCID, which frequently accompanies cerebrovascular disease or injury, is recognized as its own form of dementia, yet there is growing evidence linking the condition — particularly when it is caused by cerebral small vessel disease — to Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

In 2013, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute on Aging held an Alzheimer's disease-related dementias conference, which recommended research on biomarkers of the vascular processes involved in VCID in Alzheimer's and associated dementias. 

To that end, the NIH has established the Small Vessel VCID Biomarkers Consortium. According to the agency, the consortium will focus on arterioles, capillaries, and venules in vascular cognitive impairment, vascular dementia, and all mixed and pure cognitive impairment and dementias with contributing small vessel vascular disease including sporadic Alzheimer's disease. 

The NIH said that $5 million of its fund for this project will go to financing five to eight research projects developing predictive, diagnostic, target-engagement, and progression candidate biomarkers of small vessel cerebrovascular disease in human VCID and vascular/Alzheimer's mixed dementias to the point where they will be ready for large-scale clinical validation studies.

As part of their participation in the consortium, funded research groups are expected to collaborate with other members, including sharing biospecimens. 

The NIH also intends to provide $750,000 in fiscal year 2016 funding to one organization that will act as a coordinating center for the consortium. This center will be tasked with establishing and maintaining administrative and data cores, overseeing biospecimen banking and sharing, and providing information technology and clinical database support to consortium members. It will not, however, be responsible for storing biospecimens. 

Additional details about the funding opportunities can be found here and here.