New MRI test for early Alzheimer's disease detection

Posted under Uncategorized on January 2nd, 2015 by Editorial Team / No Comments

We recently wrote about a novel blood test that can detect signs of Alzheimer’s disease up to 10 years before clinical diagnoses are usually made.

Now news has emerged about another test, this one using a non-invasive technique known as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is also thought to be able to detect the very earliest biological stages of Alzheimer’s, long before symptoms of the disease typically emerge.

The MRI technique allows scientists to visualise the build-up of amyloid beta toxins in the brain; these are thought to play a role in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. The new test differs from the many conventional ones in development that focus on amyloid plaques, which only appear at a later stage of the disease.

The Northwestern University scientists who developed the test say it won’t only be used as a disease detection tool. They think it also has potential to aid in Alzheimer’s drug design and development by measuring how effective novel drugs are at reducing amyloid beta toxins. In addition, the fact that the test employs antibodies, a biological defence against the relevant toxins, means the test itself may even hold some therapeutic potential.

Novel tests are a sure sign that research is leading the way to better detection at the early stages of Alzheimer’s, hopefully opening the door for improved drug development and disease treatments for patients.

Tags: Alzheimer's detection, Alzheimer's test, MRI, Northwestern University

Alzheimer's Accountability Act Approved in America

Posted under Uncategorized on December 22nd, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Last week, the Alzheimer’s Association received exciting news as the US Congress made a long term commitment to elevate Alzheimer’s research funding from 2015 by announcing the new Alzheimer’s Accountability Act. Alongside a $25 million increase in Alzheimer’s research, the act ensures that the scientific judgement of the National Institutes of Health will guide Congress in future funding decisions.

In America, where five million citizens are currently living with the disease, Alzheimer’s currently costs the nation a whopping $214 billion a year. Despite the economic burden of the disease, for every $26,500 spent by the government only $100 is invested in research around it.

There is currently no known prevention for Alzheimer’s disease or way of delaying its progression - nor is there any known cure. The promise of increasing research funding in 2015 will help to reduce the economic burden of Alzheimer’s on America, and also give hope worldwide to millions of Alzheimer’s sufferers and their carers by helping to find treatments for the disease. But if effective preventions for the disease are not developed, then an estimated 75.6 million people will suffer from Alzheimer’s around the globe by 2030.

If not prevented, such a rise in Alzheimer’s sufferers would create a huge demand on healthcare services, and patients’ families. But the recent announcement for increased funding is a positive step towards finding much needed treatments for a growing population in need. 

Tags: Alzheimer's Association, national institutes of health

Charities fear lack of dementia patient care

Posted under Uncategorized on December 5th, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

A recent report from two leading charities has highlighted the lack of proper care available to people with dementia. According to Marie Curie and the Alzheimer’s Society, this failure stems from the illness not being recognised as terminal.

Jeremy Hughes, the Alzheimer’s Society’s chief executive, said: “Dementia is frequently overlooked as a terminal illness and… there are unacceptable failures to prepare and plan for end-of-life care.” The exposure given to dementia over recent years has generally focused on ways of living well with the condition. The report, meanwhile, stresses that dementia is a progressive andterminal condition, demanding improved care of those in later stages of disease.

The research drew from both health and social care findings, and Phil McCarvill, head of policy and public affairs at Marie Curie, believes that “the issue is system-wide”. Before official diagnosis, the patient is treated differently by health professionals, he argues, even though they have “very specific needs”.

In the wake of the report’s publication, and the Alzheimer’s Society suggestion that 225,000 people will develop dementia this year, the two charities aim to bring together groups dealing with dementia to create an action plan focused on overcoming the issues raised.

A spokesperson for the UK’s Department of Health responded to the report by claiming the country will now see an “unprecedented focus” committed to providing high-quality care for dementia patients right through to the end of their lives.

Mr McCarvill says that “end-of-life care remains a hidden aspect of health and social care”, adding that hearing the Department of Health announce “the upcoming refresh of End of Life Care Strategy” will encourage the care reforms that dementia patients dearly need.

To read the full report Living and Dying with Dementia – Barriers to Care, click here.

Tags: Alzheimer's society, dementia care, MArie Curie



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