Millions of doctors and patients have had no warning that Alzheimer’s was causing damage until it was too late. That is, until now.
A recent study reports a new test for early detection.
Before now, the only way to find out that a person was suffering from Alzheimer’s was to wait for serious memory loss and other symptoms. According to Alz.Org, Alzheimer’s Association,
“Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive condition in the nation. In 2014, the direct costs … total an estimated $214 billion, including $150 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid.
Alzheimer’s Association says that Alzheimer’s currently affects an estimated 5.2 million Americans and Alzheimer’s will cost the U.S. $1.2 trillion by 2050.
A new study offers hope of early detection long before symptoms appear. This may be able to reduce care costs and more.
According to Dr. William L. Klein, one of the lead researchers, “We have a new brain imaging method that can detect the toxin that leads to Alzheimer’s disease….Using MRI, we can see the toxins attached to neurons in the brain.”
Researchers involved in this new study think that they’ve found a cause for Alzheimer’s: toxic amyloid beta oligomers. In the past, plaques were believed to be the cause, but plaques only occur at a late stage of Alzheimer’s. Amyloid beta oligomers may be detected at the onset, as long as ten years before the plaques.
The theory is that, over time, the amyloid beta oligomers build up and start to stick together, forming the later plaques.
Dravid, the Abraham Harris Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, says, “Non-invasive imaging by MRI of amyloid beta oligomers is a giant step forward towards diagnosis of this debilitating disease in its earliest form.”
In other words, besides reducing care costs, early detection could lead to better treatments that could prevent severe memory loss.
Klein agrees, “We expect to use this tool to detect this disease early and to help identify drugs that can effectively eliminate the toxin and improve health.”