Third-Party Funded Projects on Neurodegenerative Diseases


Early diagnosis of dementia
Principal investigators: Jürgen Deckert with Thomas Polak, Martin Herrmann
Funded by the Vogel-Stiftung
Project duration 2010-2019

Background and methods

Due to the increasing life expectancy of the population, dementia diseases have a higher frequency of occurrence. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's Disease (AD).

The latencies of somatosensory evoked potentials of the N. Vagus (VSEP) show a statistically significant difference between patients with Alzheimer's Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment and healthy controls. Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) has been proven to show a significant difference as well (Herrmann et al., 2008; Zeller et al., 2010). The goal of this project is to determine if both methods are applicable for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease. The project "Early Diagnosis of Dementia (Vogel-Study)" is a longitudinal study over a period of 6 years on a representative sample of elderly (70-75 years), healthy probands living in the city of Würzburg. In the study, the significance and informational value of neurocognitive, electrophysiological and biochemical parameters for the development of Alzheimer's Disease is investigated. The probands are examined three times with the methods mentioned above: at the beginning of the study, after 3 years and after 6 years. Thus, we test the hypothesis that the results (i.e. longer VSEP latencies, different NIRS pattern) of probands developing Alzheimer’s disease over the observation period differ significantly from those of the other probands even at the beginning of the study.

To investigate biochemical processes in the context of Alzheimer's dementia, it is planned, among other things, to examine samples in a network with scientists in Europe (EADB = European DNA Bank Consortium) and worldwide (PGC = Psychiatric Genomics Consortium). Furthermore, investigations will be conducted at the protein level ("proteomics") and in the field of metabolic processes in general ("metabolomics").


The study is made possible by a generous donation by the „Vogel-Stiftung Dr. Eckernkamp“.

Other supporters are the Alzheimer Gesellschaft Unterfranken, the Head Mayor of the city of Würzburg, the Center for Geriatric Medicine Würzburg in the Bürgerspital, the Geriatric Rehabilitation Center of the AWO Würzburg, the “Gesundheitsakademie 50plus” in the Bürgerspital, the Senior Citizen Council of the city of Würzburg, and HALMA e.v. (Hilfe für alte Menschen im Alltag, support for the elderly in everyday life).

Head of Hospital

Portraitfoto von Oberarzt PD Dr. med. Dipl. chem. Thomas Polak

PD Dr. med. Dipl. chem.
Thomas Polak


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