Dementia is among the leading causes of death and disability. Due to the ageing population, its prevalence is expected to nearly triple worldwide by 2050, urging the development of preventive and curative interventions. Various modifiable risk factors have been identified in community-based cohort studies, but insight into the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms is lacking. Clinical trials have thus far failed in the development of disease-modifying therapy in patients with dementia, thereby triggering a shift of focus toward the presymptomatic phase of disease. The extensive preclinical disease course of Alzheimer’s disease warrants reliable, easily obtainable biomarkers to aid in timely application of preventive strategies, selecting participants for neuroprotective trials, and disease monitoring in trials and clinical practice. Biomarker and drug discovery may yield the fruits from technology-driven developments in the field of genomics, epigenetics, metabolomics, and brain imaging. In that context, bridging the gap between translational and population research may well prove a giant leap toward development of successful preventive and curative interventions against dementia.

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Methods in Molecular Biology
Department of Epidemiology

Wolters, F., & Ikram, A. (2018). Epidemiology of dementia: The burden on society, the challenges for research. In Methods in Molecular Biology. doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-7704-8_1