New studies presented that the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark this past week have shown evidence that the brain disease might be able to be detected first in the eyes and nose.
Alzheimer’s is caused by amyloid beta levels in the brain that cause blockage. These amyloid levels may now be able to be spotted first in retinas during routine eye exams. “The retina is part of the central nervous system, sharing many characteristics of the brain,” says Dr. Keith Black of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. If further research shows that our initial findings are correct, it could potentially be delivered as part of an individual’s regular eye check-up.”
— Alzheimer's Assoc. (@alzassociation) July 12, 2014
The tests were performed by “staining” the amyloid beta plague in the retinas with curcumin (a component of turmeric), being able to detect it in the eyes before it reached the brain. A laser scanner was used to detect the stained beta-amyloid. The study was performed on 20 probable Alzheimer’s patients and 20 healthy volunteers. The test detected Alzheimer’s in 85% of the probable patients and ruled out 95% of the healthy volunteers.
These eye tests are mostly effective when done early, scientists say. While there’s no drug for curing Alzheimer’s, catching symptoms early can aid prevention. “There are treatments for symptoms that work best early in the disease process. As time goes on, they become less effective,” says Dr. Carillo to NBC News. He adds:
“We’re hoping that in a few years that we could roll this out as frontline screening for Alzheimer’s disease, giving those at risk a much better chance of receiving treatment earlier. If we can identify people early, we can actually modify the course of the disease.”
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, affecting more than 5 million Americans. It takes the life of almost a half a million every year. It’s projected to effect over 13 million Americans over the next 35 years, if nothing majorly preventive is done before then. These new tests provide hope to families and concerned patients that a cure may be seen in our lifetime. Or at least, major treatment to symptoms, slowing the onset of the disease. As tests are still being performed, be we can expect to see further reports released in the near future.
— ALZ Impact Movement (@ALZIMPACT) July 9, 2014
Image via Indian Express