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A New Miracle in Early Alzheimer’s Detection

Scientists have discovered a drug that can aid in the detection of Alzheimer’s disease before the condition develops.

Alzheimer’s disease is a non-reversible disorder of the brain, characterised by progressive deterioration of memory and thinking ability. It is the most common cause of dementia (National Institute on Aging, 2011). People with dementia lose their cognitive and behavioural function. Alzheimer’s disease is age-related and mostly seen in the elderly over 60 years of age.  The earliest symptoms, which develop later in life, including confusion and loss of memory (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2012) may appear to be normal changes that occur due to old age. Hence, pinpointing those with Alzheimer’s disease is almost impossible.

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Experts estimate that there are 5.5 million people in the US and over 35 million people worldwide with Alzheimer’s disease (Querfurth & LaFerla, 2010). With the development of the disease, the severity of the symptoms increases to an extent that it interferes with daily life activities of Alzheimer sufferers. Eventually they completely lose their cognitive and behavioural functions, and die. At present, there is no test to detect Alzheimer’s disease in the living. It is only possible to confirm the diagnosis when an autopsy carried out on the deceased shows plagues in the brain.

A definitive cause for Alzheimer’s disease and the reason why Alzheimer’s mostly affect the older adults are still unknown and being researched by scientists. In addition, studies done in an effort to understand the normal changes that occur in the brain with aging, is providing insights to the disease process of Alzheimer’s disease. Research done on Alzheimer’s disease suggests that genetics, environmental and lifestyle factors play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s (National Institute on Aging, 2011). Drugs developed so far helps reduce the symptoms of the disease, improving the quality of life of Alzheimer’s victims.

Figure: Alzheimer’s progression (National Institute on Aging, 2011).

A recent discovery by researchers from Banner Sun Health Research Institute in Arizona has brought new hope to victims of Alzheimer’s disease. According to researchers, Florbetaben, an experimental drug, may aid in the differential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, years before the condition develops (Ricci, 2012). Early detection and treatment of this disorder would delay its development for several years. Currently, there is no drug to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Plagues and tangles in the brain and the loss of communication between nerve cells in the brain are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (National Institute on Aging, 2011). Amyloid plagues (clumping of the protein beta-Amyloid), lightens up on a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan when patients are injected with Florbetaben (Laino & Chang, 2012). Though this drug does not directly detect Alzheimer’s disease in patients, it will help skilled doctors to diagnose or rule out the condition. The course of Alzheimer’s disease is not fully understood; apparently, the damage to the brain starts years before the actual symptoms of the disease are displayed in the affected.

Figure: Alzheimer’s Scan (Ricci, 2012).

Experts who made this discovery announced their findings at the annual meeting held by the American Academy of Neurology in New Orleans, last April. Initially during the study, a test group of Alzheimer’s patients were injected with the Florbetaben and their PET and MRI images were taken. In the late stages, those scans were compared with 31 images taken from the subjects within the test group after their death (Ricci, 2012). Several radioactive drugs including Florbetaben are subjected to extensive research on their ability to detect Alzheimer’s disease.

References:

Laino, C., & Chang, L. (2012). Drugs May help Diagnose Alzheimer’s Earlier. Retrieved May 10, 2012, from http://www.rxlist.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=157126

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2012, January 4). NIDS Alzheimer’s Disease Information Page. Retrieved May 10, 2012, from National Institutes of Health Website: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/alzheimersdisease/alzheimersdisease.htm?css=print

National Institute on Aging. (2011, July). Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet. Retrieved May 10, 2012, from National Institutes of Health Website: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet

Querfurth, H.W., & LaFerla, F.M. (2010, January 28). Mechanisms of Disease: Alzheimer’s Disease. The New England Journal of Medicine, 362 (4), 329-344. Retrieved May 10, 2012, from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra0909142

Ricci, R. (2012). New Breakthrough In Alzheimer’s Detection. Retrieved May 10, 2012, from http://www.my-health-world.com/blog/2012/04/23/new-breakthrough-alzheimers-detection/

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  1. wow, interesting, very well referenced. Fantastic article.

  2. Very good article Safa, well presented, important information.

  3. Interesting topic. Hope there is medical breakthrough so that Alzheimer’s disease can be detected and cured.

  4. Good article, this is good information…
    :)

  5. Another good step toward understanding this dreaded disease.

  6. Well written;well presented and well informed.
    I am sure that many readers will find this one iteresting.
    Take care Safa and enjoy your weekend.
    Eddy.

  7. I’ve never read such an informative and awesome article in my life. great work. keep up the good work.

  8. sound good news for all of us
    many thanks for the development in medicine
    and thanks for this good stuff

  9. well done
    congratulation

  10. good work

  11. well composed

  12. Wow, it is scary to know that this disease could attack just about any elderly and we do not even know how to avoid or prevent this.

  13. Great information guys :) Like it!!

  14. Like, nice information

  15. nice sharing

  16. Excellent article on alzheimer’s. well presented and contains useful information too. A click I like for this one, is a must!

  17. Excellent post.

  18. Very interesting read

  19. Wow, it’s really great article!! :D

  20. i remember muhammad ali if hearing this disease

  21. This new drug looks useful.

  22. I appreciate the info on this very important subject.

  23. good job brother

  24. Very good article Safa, well presented, important information.

  25. very nice articel safa thanks for sharing

  26. congratulattion for your hardwork
    i can see it in the right sidebar safa
    you got it

  27. I hope this medicine can help those that suffer with this. Excellent article. Thanks

  28. A well research piece here friend! This disease makes me look at gaing with abit of apprehension!

  29. Wow, Safa, this is such an excellent and gorgeously-presented piece. I hope the miracle treatment really does work. my dad had Alzheimers – it’s a horrible condition. He would have hated to see himself so muddled and hopeless.

  30. back

  31. Wow! this is an amazing medical breakthrough.

  32. Very good news.

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  34. Useful and informative. I always look forward to read your content.

  35. This is a well research work..Job well done Safa !

  36. was here to read this once again. Excellent article.

  37. excellent share

  38. Hope there is medical breakthrough so that Alzheimer’s disease can be detected and cured.

  39. again

  40. again

  41. This is really a good news Safa

  42. My mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and she was diagnosed in her mid- sixties. It is genetic on one side of my family. My grandmother, great-uncle, died from it, and one of my cousins has it.
    It is heartbreaking to see what this horrific disease does.

    Very well crafted article with information, excellent work on this. Thanks, for bringing attention to this devastating disease.

  43. Good to know. I like the way the world is advancing in finding remedies for diseases. Thanks

  44. Thanks for the info. The drugs that are available now to perhaps slow the disease are discouraged by our doctor. he says they don’t do that much and the side effects aren’t worth it. I pray with you that new discoveries will be made. Sadly, it will probably be too late for my husband.

  45. Great info. Thanks again. :-)

  46. My father suffered from Alzheimer’s and thankfully not too long after his diagnosis. However, if it had been recognized early enough perhaps he would still be here or the disease would not have taken him so quickly. I worry for myself and my family as there is that genetic aspect…

  47. Once again :D

  48. and again :D

  49. wow amazing..,,

  50. I love good news! Thank you for sharing the information Safa ^_^

  51. Hope the detection comes with a tour too!

  52. Hope the detection comes with a cure too!

  53. Good article to read and thanks for share

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