Alzheimer's Test Can Detect Disease Decades in Advance

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Nov. 6 2012 1:10 PM

Alzheimer's Test Can Detect Disease Decades in Advance

A new test can detect Alzheimer's disease decades before symptoms would usually appear, a potential boon for future treatments.

Researchers at the Banner Alzheimer's Institute conducted brain scans of people ages 18 to 26 who have familial Alzheimer's, a genetic mutation that causes the disease's onset by a person's 40s rather than the more typical mid-70s. The early-onset scans differed from those without the mutation, with elevated levels of the protein beta-amyloid in fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

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A leading Alzheimer's researcher in the United Kingdom told the BBC that "the findings highlight changes can take place in the brain decades before symptoms show"—and that timing could be crucial for potential treatments.

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