Published January 04, 2012
As you all know, Alzheimer’s disease is a topic I’ve always been very interested in learning more about and discussing.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Paul Greengard and other esteemed members of The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, which has made giant strides in improving our understanding of the disease.
Their most recent breakthroughs have centered around a protein called beta-amyloid, which can build up in the brain and form plaques that are thought to contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s.
I’m encouraged by their work, and the work of other researchers around the world who are making strides every day in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
In Wednesday’s news, for example, researchers reported a test to detect people at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease may finally be on the horizon after identifying certain predictive markers.
In the new study, researchers from Sweden's Lund University in Malmo, Skane University Hospital in Malmo and the University of Gothenburg, found changes in a person’s spinal fluid can predict Alzheimer’s with 90 percent accuracy up to 10 years before dementia develops.
The study followed patients for nearly 10 years and found those who had mild thinking difficulties as well as lowered levels of beta-amyloid in their cerebro-spinal fluid at the beginning of the study were much more likely to develop Alzheimer’s by the end.
Experts call the study a “breakthrough” and say it offers the most promising sign yet that an accurate test may be available in the near future. As of now, Alzheimer’s – which accounts for 70 percent of all dementia cases – is only diagnosed after symptoms begin.
While currently there are few effective treatments for the disease, researchers expect this will change over the next decade. Since new treatments and early diagnosis tools are within our grasp, I have high hopes that we may finally begin closing in on a cure for Alzheimer’s.