Worldwide, nearly 44 million people have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. But, only one in four people with Alzheimer’s disease have been diagnosed. Organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association strive for a cure every day. They have had advances in brain imaging, boosting brain cell communicating, and have never been so hopeful in finding a cure.
What would happen if we could diagnose Alzheimer’s before it was too late? Researchers are looking for a way to detect this disease before irreversible brain damage is done. Right now they are using biological markers. A biomarker is something that can be measured to indicate the presence of a disease. Examples being studied include beta-amyloid and tau levels in cerebrospinal fluid and brain changes detectable by imaging. But before it can be used in clinics it must be tested to see if it can accurately detect the disease.
Right now they use CT‘s (Computed tomography), MRI‘s (Magnetic resonance imaging), and PET scans (Positron emission tomography) to rule out other diseases when diagnosing Alzheimer’s. These provide information about the shape, position, or volume of brain tissue. CSF is a clear fluid that cushions the brain and spinal cord. Adults have about 1 pint of CSF, which can be tested through a spinal tap. Research suggests that Alzheimer’s disease in early stages may cause changes in CSF levels of tau and beta-amyloid. The Alzheimer’s Association has funded the QC Program for CSF Biomarkers to further the research. Organizations can then compare their sample outcomes to the results.
This shows a scan with blue being the low brain activity and yellow being the high brain activity. In a normal brain there would be symmetrical yellow on both sides. The patchy areas are places with degenerative brain tissue.
One in nine Americans over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s disease. Everyday researchers are looking for a cure. Today’s drugs only slow the process. There are several drugs being tested with clinical trials, and advancements in neuroimaging. Together we can find a cure.
What new research are they looking at?
What do researchers have to have to start a clinical trial?
When people come in how are they first diagnosed?