-Dr.Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC
Alzheimer’s researchers have recently discovered that testing spinal fluid can be 100 percent accurate in predicting Alzheimer’s in patients with significant memory loss. The study appeared today in the Archives of Neurology. This is a breakthrough in research after decades of lack of understanding about Alzheimer’s, which seemed untreatable and whose presence could only be discovered after autopsies.
Medical experts have come to a consensus that Alzheimer’s begins a decade before people begin to have symptoms, and by the time symptoms appear, it may be too late to save the brain. With this new method of earlier detection, doctors can now track the disease, when the symptoms appear, and most importan develop ways of treating or preventing the disease and tracking the effectiveness of their methods.
The study included more than 300 patients in their 70s, 114 with normal memories, 200 with memory problems and 102 with Alzheimer’s.
Along with spinal fluid tests, there are new PET scans of the brain that show the development of plaque in the brain that develops with Alzheimer’s. Hundreds of new drugs are also being tested that researchers hope can slow or prevent the drastic brain cell death that destroys the mental capacities of sufferer’s of Alzheimer’s.
Although the technology is available, there is an ethical question about doctors offering commercially available spinal tap tests to offering testing for a disease that is currently untreatable. Other experts say that the test is not proven to be reliable enough because the results vary by labs and have only been studied in research settings.
Read the entire article from the New York Times here.