Identifying Alzheimer’s Disease Before it Occurs
Alzheimer’s an ugly disease that can take anyone. Your loved one is still right in front of you and even looks exactly the same, but can’t remember your wedding day. What are scientists and researchers doing about Alzheimer’s disease? An international team of scientists are seeking a better way to define Alzheimer’s and identify its presence in those who are in the earliest stages of the disease before symptoms occur.
Alzheimer’s disease occurs when brain cell connections and the cells themselves degenerate and die, eventually destroying memory and other important mental functions. The typical symptoms are memory loss and confusion. No cure yet exists, but medications and management strategies may temporarily improve symptoms.
The proposed new way of looking at the disease allows biomarkers instead of symptoms to identify the presence of Alzheimer’s, which could allow researchers to more accurately understand the pathology of the disease. To test this theory, scientists want to include biological changes, like beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles, that can occur when Alzheimer’s begins. The scientists want to understand what is happening in the brains of people who still have normal brain function but are likely to develop the disease.
There is a beginning stage of Alzheimer’s where there are no symptoms. By conducting research with the new biomarkers at this very early stage, scientists will get a better understanding if the person in the study truly has Alzheimer’s.
The study is a tool for researchers as of right now, and not intended for physicians who diagnose the disease.