The national research project TAP-dementia is underway. TAP-dementia stands for Timely, Accurate and Personalised Diagnosis of Dementia. Researchers from across the Netherlands are joining forces to improve the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s as well as other forms of dementia. This is of great significance, not only for patients and their families but also for attending physicians. Vilans is one of the 10 research partners.
With some 300,000 patients, dementia is one of the biggest healthcare challenges in the Netherlands. Dementia can have several causes and identifying which brain disorder is causing the dementia is complicated. Partly because of this, it often takes years until it is clear what is happening. Sometimes patients are never diagnosed at all or only know that they have dementia, but not what disease is causing it. It is important to determine the underlying brain disease because a proper diagnosis is the gateway to appropriate care and treatment. It is also important for patients and their families to know what disease is causing the dementia. That way you know better what to expect and how to cope with it.
Implication for drug development
In addition, establishing a proper diagnosis is the starting point for developing better treatments and drugs in the future. Wiesje van der Flier, project leader of TAP-dementia and Scientific Director of Alzheimercentrum Amsterdam: ‘In improving the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s we have already come a long way, but with this project we really want to take a step towards improving the diagnosis of other forms of dementia as well. We are also focusing on mixed brain damage or several different brain diseases at the same time because that’s very common’.
Five research projects
Within TAP-dementia, 10 organisations are collaborating on five research projects. The starting point is that the diagnosis meets the wishes and needs of patients and their families. The researchers will evaluate promising tests for different forms of dementia in the field. New tests are also being developed to refine the diagnoses.
Experiences of people with dementia
Within the consortium, people with dementia and their families play an important role since they know better than anyone else how the diagnostic process works and where there is room for improvement. A group of people with dementia and their families will also work together with the researchers on how the results of the research can be shared to ensure that new knowledge can be applied in the field.