A New Alzheimer’s Diagnostic Test Can View the Disease
Until now only by autopsying brains of patients who showed classic symptoms of Alzheimer’s could there be a visualization of the characteristic plaques and tangles of the brain Because of that limitation, probable diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is made through clinical observation as well as by ruling out other diseases; however, confirmation is made only through autopsy.
The new tracer dye used in a PET scan is a huge breakthrough for seeing how the disease takes root. In the study led by Dr. William Klunk from the University of Pittsburgh Medical School patients with mild symptoms of Alzheimer’s showed dye sticking to the amyloid plaque area of the brain characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease (the hippocampal fissure). The dye did not stick to any areas of the brain not associated with AD. Those participants in the study without any symptoms had no trace of dye in the brain.
In the future researchers will be able to study high-risk families with a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer's disease. They will evaluate whether plaques responsible for destroying the brain's ability to analyze and remember are present years before any symptoms appear, and/ or if they quickly accumulate.
Dr. Klunk has paved the way for visually measuring the effectiveness of any new therapy in actually getting rid of amyloid plaques or halting their progression. Being able to see the accumulation or disappearance of these plaques will greatly enhance researchers’ ability to evaluate the effectiveness of new drug therapies which should dramatically speed up the development of a cure for this dreaded disease.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer at Southampton College. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WLIE 540AM in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com
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