New Test Can Definitively Diagnose Alzheimer’s Before Onset of Symptoms

Scientists have discovered a new test for the detection of Alzheimer’s disease.  While the breakthrough has many in the scientific community excited, the practical implications of such a test will likely remain unknown for some time.

Until the discovery of the new test, Alzheimer’s could not be confirmed until after death and a brain autopsy had been performed.  The new test uses a spinal tap to extract and test spinal fluid for specific proteins that are only present in people who will develop Alzheimer’s disease.  The test is capable of detecting the disease prior to the onset of early symptoms.  It is not yet known how far ahead of the onset of symptoms the test can detect the disease.

While scientists and doctors are glad that there appears to finally be a test to confirm a diagnosis, they caution there may be few practical implications for the test.  Spinal taps are a very invasive procedure, and not everyone will be able to have them.  Additionally, knowing that a patient will develop Alzheimer’s will currently do little to change the course of treatment.  With no current cure for the disease, there is little doctors can do to help patients suffering from the dissociative disorder.

There have been drugs that have shown promise in slowing the disease, however none are capable of reliably treating the symptoms and providing relief for patients and their families.  Researchers hope that by knowing a patient has the disease before symptoms emerge, it will lead to better treatments, and a possible cure in the future, though they admit that is in the very distant future.


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