Detecting Alzheimer’s 20 Years Sooner?

Photo (cc) by The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of D

BBC News reports on new research showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease in young adults who are likely to be diagnosed in their 40s…

A team at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Arizona looked at a group of patients who have familial Alzheimer’s. A genetic mutation means they nearly always get the disease in their 40s. Alzheimer’s normally becomes apparent after the age of 75.

Brain scans of 20 people with the mutation, aged between 18 and 26, already showed differences compared with those from 24 people who were not destined to develop early Alzheimer’s.

The fluid which bathes the brain and spinal cord also had higher levels of a protein called beta-amyloid.

The researchers believe changes in the brains of people at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s could be detected more than two decades before symptoms appear. This raises the question of when treatment should begin in an attempt to prevent the disease – something which will require a lot more research.

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