Published on: August 31, 2014
by Ronald Petersen, M.D. for Imperial Valley News:
An important first step in developing a treatment plan for any disease is having a clear diagnosis. New Alzheimer’s tests may help with early detection of some of the pathological components of the disease. However, before these become widely available, more research is needed to determine who might benefit from them and what they reveal about the progression of Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
Researchers have proposed Alzheimer’s tests that measure two proteins, beta–amyloid and tau, in cerebrospinal fluid. The fluid is examined for evidence of abnormal development of beta-amyloid proteins, which form plaques, and tau proteins, which form tangles. Both plaques and tangles are thought to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. These proteins can help identify people with the underlying disease process who are likely to progress to more–serious forms of the disease.
Brain imaging (neuroimaging).
Brain imaging – using equipment to record images of changes in the brain – is another area of research. Researchers are studying imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans, used in conjunction with radiotracers. These radiotracers are charged particles that “light up” Alzheimer’s-affected areas in images of the brain – for example, by attaching to proteins, amyloid and tau, associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Technology is also being used to develop software for computer–based assessments that detect cognitive changes and may be useful in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is an important goal. Early intervention with medications may slow the progression of the disease and provide a better opportunity to plan for the future.
Older people who report greater levels of social engagement have more robust gray matter in regions of the brain relevant in dementia, according to new research led by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of...
In a new study, University of Nebraska–Lincoln sociologist Marc A. Garcia explored how educational attainment can benefit cognitive health in later life, and whether there are differences in its benefits among minorities. Garcia and his co-authors...
A genetic variation in some people may be associated with cognitive decline that can’t be explained by deposits of two key proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid β and tau, according to a study...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.