Category Archives: Diagnosis & Tests

The Eyes May Know About Alzheimer’s

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Finding inexpensive non-invasive tests to detect early Alzheimer’s is a major goal for many research groups. A very promising route is to use eye scans since the retina, exposed at the back of eye, is actually part of the central nervous system. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles have taken that route, and have developed a scanning mechanism, similar to standard ophthalmic instruments, which can examine the retina and determine the amount of retinal plaque — similar to brain plaque seemingly involved in Alzheimer’s — present in the retina. Promising trials correlating the amount of retinal plaque present with the amount of brain plaque present are underway, where the amount of brain plaque is estimated by means of (expensive and difficult) PET scans.

Here are links to three media articles about the work:

Can this eye scan detect Alzheimer’s years in advance?
Clinical study shows that retinal imaging may detect signs of Alzheimer’s disease
Cedars-Sinai Device May Provide Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

And here is a link to the main research article:
Retinal amyloid pathology and proof-of-concept imaging trial in Alzheimer’s disease

It’s interesting to note that a similar approach has been developed for early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease:
Eye test may detect Parkinson’s before symptoms appear

All links are contained in Alzheimer’s > Diagnosis & Tests

Category: Diagnosis & Tests

Family & Friends Can Help Diagnose Alzheimer’s

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Since Alzheimer’s attacks the brain, the major visible changes to a person descending into Alzheimer’s are changes in behavior. So it is certainly no surprise that in general, the people who can most knowledgeably speak to a person’s behavioral changes are that person’s family and friends. Because of this, the “AD8, A brief informant interview to detect dementia” was developed at Washington University for use in interviewing family and friends. It contains eight yes-no questions dealing with issues such as:

Less interest in hobbies/activities

Trouble handling complicated financial affairs (e.g., balancing checkbook, income taxes, paying bills)

Trouble remembering appointments

A pdf of the complete AD8 is available here; Permission to use the AD8 can be obtained here.
(It would seem that a combination of the AD8 with the UPSIT “scratch and sniff” test would make a moderately good inexpensive screening combination.)

These links to some articles on the AD8 have been posted in
Alzheimer’s > Diagnosis & Tests:

The AD8 and its Use as an Alzheimer’s Screening Test

Family, Friends Seem Best at Spotting Early Dementia

And these research publication links have also been posted in Alzheimer’s > Diagnosis & Tests. The first link is the original publication on the AD8, and the others are follow-ups:

The AD8: A brief informant interview to detect dementia

Relationship of dementia screening tests with biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease

The impact of dementia prevalence on the utility of the AD8

Reply: The impact of dementia prevalence on the utility of the AD8

Four New Links in Diagnosis & Tests of Alzheimer’s

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In Alzheimers > Diagnosis & Tests:

Scientists warn that new drugs will require earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Announcement about success of solanezumab leads to calls for improved testing to identify those who would benefit from slowing of mental decline

Researchers: Saliva test may reveal Alzheimer’s They caution the results of a recent study are small, and more tests will be needed to judge its accuracy.

Saliva seen as possible diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s disease …study suggests that analyzing certain chemical compounds in saliva could provide a cheap, noninvasive way to learn whether the brain has begun to undergo the changes that culminate in loss of memory and cognitive function.

Study: Middle Age Memory Failures Can Predict Alzheimer’s 18 Years Before Diagnosis The changes in thinking and memory that precede obvious symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease begin decades before…