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Dublin: 11°C Monday 17 May 2021

Early test for Alzheimer's may be possible

A new early test for Alzheimer’s could prove “pivotal” in the detection and treatment of the disease.

Image: Ann Gordon via Creative Commons

EXPERTS IN THE UK say that they may have found a way to conduct an early test for Alzheimer’s years before symptoms appear.

They believe that a lumbar puncture test combined with a brain scan can identify patients with early tell-tale signs of dementia, the BBC reports.

It is hoped that doctors could then use the results to distinguish patients who could benefit from the early administration of drugs and treatment. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s is usually diagnosed when the disease in in the advanced stages, meaning that treatment used can have only limited effect. However, Dr Jonathan Schott and his colleagues at the Institute of Neurology, University College of London, believe they can now detect Alzheimer’s disease many years before symptoms appear.

The neurologists believe that by monitoring to specific factors – shrinkage of the brain and lower than normal levels of a protein – the early signs of dementia can be detected. Levels of protein, called cerebrospinal fluid amyloid is often depressed in Alzheimer’s sufferers.

The team recruited 105 healthy volunteers to undergo the series of checks; in a few years they will know if their projections were correct.

They are also looking ways to detect for dementia without needing to administer a lumbar puncture.

The BBC quotes Rebecca Wood of the the charity that sponsored the work – the Alzheimer’s Research Trust – who said: “We are hamstrung by our inability to accurately detect Alzheimer’s, but these findings could prove to be pivotal.”

She added: ”We know that treatments for many diseases can be more successful if given early and this is likely to be true for Alzheimer’s.”

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