ENtorhinal CoRtex-hippocampal circuit in PREVENT
Aims of study:
A major challenge in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research is identifying patients early enough in the disease course to give therapeutic interventions. ENCRYPT aims to test the hypothesis that entorhinal cortex (EC) and hippocampal (HC) function are impaired prior to symptom onset in AD, which may yield new cognitive tests capable of detecting earlier disease related changes than currently possible. It uses a novel approach of navigation testing to do so, given the presence of unique spatial ‘GPS’ cells in EC which is one of the first affected regions. ENCRYPT is a sub-study in the PREVENT Dementia Programme, aiming to recruit around 100 PREVENT participants who are aged between 40-60 and have undergone longitudinal cognitive, biomarker and clinical profiling for AD risk factors. Participants will complete an immersive virtual reality test of navigation and a 7 tesla MRI scan. This state of the art super high-resolution imaging enables detailed visualisation of the structure and function of the EC, which as a tiny brain region is not easily visible on conventional 3 tesla scans. This ENCRYPT data will be cross-referenced with PREVENT data on AD risk factors to determine how EC navigation function is impacted by AD risk.
A high resolution 7 tesla image of the hippocampal region with example outlines of different hippocampal subfields (right) – entorhinal cortex in brown.
Snapshots of the virtual reality environment used to test navigation.
Joint funding from Alzheimer’s Society, Merck and NIHR Cambridge BRC.
PI: Professor John O’Brien
Co-supervisor: Professor Li Su
Study lead: Coco Newton
Advisors: Dr Dennis Chan (UCL), Dr Caterina Rua (Cambridge)
Study team: Zeynep Sahin
Observer “Virtual reality to help detect early risk of Alzheimer’s.”
Cambridge BRC NIHR “Could Virtual Reality help detect the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease?”
For further information about this study please contact Coco Newton