February 22, 2024

A New Way To Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease Is On The Video

We are entering an era of change in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, with the announcement of a new set of diagnostic guidelines for the disease. It is hoped that a greater emphasis on blood biomarkers could help diagnose more patients earlier, and reduce the need for more invasive and expensive tests.

The new criteria have been developed by a team of experts with support from the International Alzheimer’s Association and the US National Institute on Aging.

Blood tests to detect Alzheimer’s disease have been in development for several years, but only recently recently that they have been convincingly shown to have potential in the clinic. Until now, only a few patients with access to specialist treatment centers have been able to get a blood test for Alzheimer’s, but scientists hope that this could soon be much more widely available.

“A new generation of biomarkers is now available to detect Alzheimer’s disease more and more effectively. We have already gained a lot of experience in our Alzheimer’s center, but in the long term the test can be successfully implemented after a referral from a family doctor,” explained Charlotte Teunissen, professor of neurochemistry at UMC Amsterdam who was involved in the drafting of the guidelines, in a statement.

For patients showing the first signs of cognitive impairment, which may or may not be related to Alzheimer’s disease, peace of mind could be provided if they could confirm this with a simple blood test – or, in cases of early Alzheimer’s disease, it could allow people. start treatment before the disease has a chance to cause disease severe brain damage.

Currently, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s depends on finding evidence of the abnormal proteins that characterize the disease in samples of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or in the brain itself through a positron emission tomography (PET) scan.

CSF is obtained by a lumbar puncture, sometimes called a spinal tap, is an invasive and sometimes uncomfortable procedure. Increased levels of the tau protein within the CSF indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s disease, although scientists still divided on why exactly this increase occurs, even in patients without major brain damage.

PET scans non-invasive, but they are expensive and can be logistically complex to perform. An amyloid-PET scan detects an increase in abnormal amyloid-beta protein in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. A radioactive molecule that binds to the amyloid proteins is injected into the body, and the scanner picks up the small amount of radiation it emits.

The researchers who presented the new diagnostic guidelines noted that the blood test is relatively inexpensive, can be performed in a variety of settings, and should hopefully be a less stressful experience for patients. Although lumbar punctures and PET scans may still be required in some cases, the need for them is expected to decrease.

The announcement of the new guidance comes as lecanemab, a drug that targets the pathological amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s patients, received full approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July 2023. The makers of a similar drug, donanemab, reported positive results from a Phase 3 clinical trial earlier this year. Research in other areas is progressing rapidly, and major advances in vaccine technology are targeting the disease.

Easier, earlier diagnosis is, according to the teams behind the new guidelines, the “gateway to treatment”, so the news couldn’t be more timely. Research into blood biomarkers will continue and the test will be refined, but it is another positive step forward in the fight against a disease that was thought to have had an impact last year. 6.5 million seniors in the US only.

The new guidelines were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2023.

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