November 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the first participant enrolled in Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP). With more than 1,700 research participants and twenty years of data, WRAP is now the largest and one of the longest-running family history studies of Alzheimer’s disease in the world.
Sterling Johnson, PhD, is WRAP principal investigator, associate director of the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute (WAI) and associate director and Biomarker Core leader in the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC).
“I’m especially grateful for the dedication of our research team and for the remarkable research participants who have dedicated their time to helping improve the science of Alzheimer’s disease,” Johnson said. “Because of them we are making real progress and that a future of delaying, preventing and ending Alzheimer’s disease is possible.”
The importance of longevity in research
Some WRAP participants have been enrolled since the study began in 2001. With each year that passes, their participation becomes even more valuable. The longer a person participates in research, the more researchers can learn about changes that may happen in the brain and how they relate to cognitive function over time. That’s why it’s not a coincidence WRAP is now, in its 20th year, embarking on new discoveries.
This is an opportune era in time with WRAP; from the two decades of cognitive and survey data, combined with new findings in brain biomarker fluids and advanced brain imaging capabilities, new discoveries are shaping how scientists and clinicians across the world think about Alzheimer’s disease.
What’s next for WRAP
In 2020, WRAP renewed its commitment to health equity. Alzheimer’s disease affects everyone, which is why it’s especially important for the research participants, scientists and staff to be representative of the people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. WAI, WRAP and Wisconsin ADRC are committed to furthering their commitment to better science that represents everyone. Read about our renewed commitment to diversity in the most recent WRAP Update newsletter.
Some of the future key research focus areas include biomarkers. Biomarkers are the future of Alzheimer’s disease research, and WRAP scientists are leading the way in developing early detection methods using biomarkers. Twenty years ago, science lacked the technology to study Alzheimer’s disease brain changes in living research participants, but today, advanced medical imaging techniques and cerebrospinal fluid analysis allow researchers to identify early brain changes potentially associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Starting this year, WRAP study includes blood-based biomarker screening, an important new phase of WRAP discovery. Watch a video series about biomarkers and how biomarker research visits are conducted in the Biomarker Video Series from Wisconsin ADRC. And to enroll in WRAP or other UW Alzheimer’s disease studies, please read about current open enrollment opportunities.