Changes to eye cells could help diagnose and track Alzheimer’s disease

Posted under Blog on November 29th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Scientists say that changes to specific cells in the retina could potentially help diagnose and track the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The research team from Georgetown University Medical Center found that genetically engineered mice with Alzheimer’s lost thickness in this layer of eye cells. As the retina is a direct extension of the brain, the team say the loss of retinal neurons could be related to the loss of brain cells in Alzheimer’s.

The findings were presented at the US Society for Neuroscience conference which took place in Sand Diego earlier this month.

The team found looked at the thickness of the retina in an area that had not previously been investigated. They found that a loss of thickness occurred only in mice with Alzheimer’s.

Dr Scott Turner, director of the memory disorders program at Georgetown University Medical Center, said: “This suggests a new path forward in understanding the disease process in humans and could lead to new ways to diagnose or predict Alzheimer’s that could be as simple as looking into the eyes.”

Dr Turner suggested that treatments developed for Alzheimer’s could also be useful for treating glaucoma but emphasized that it was still speculation to say that retinal thinning could predict impending Alzheimer’s disease.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Laura Phipps, Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Diagnosing Alzheimer’s with accuracy can be a difficult task, which is why it’s vital to continue investing in research to improve diagnosis methods”.

Tags: Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's diagnosis, Alzheimer's Research UK, Georgetown University

Avoid online diagnosis tests for Alzheimer’s, researchers warn

Posted under Uncategorized on July 17th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Researchers have warned against the use of free online tests claiming to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, cautioning that they are scientifically invalid and could be harmful to those who take part. Many of these tests claim to be able to diagnose the condition with a memory quiz of just 10 or 20 questions.  

Scientists led by Dr Julie Robillard, from the University of British Columbia, reviewed 16 online tests hosted on sites with up to nine million users. The team’s findings were released at the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Boston.

The tests were scored on a reliability scale from one (very poor) to 10 (excellent). Twelve of the tests were rated as poor or very poor.

In addition, every test had "poor" or "very poor" scores for ethical factors which included consent and conflicts of interest.

“Doctors rely on a complex set of mental and physical tests, sometimes including brain scans, to determine if a patient has the condition,” said Dr Robillard. “There is no test that you can do sitting at a computer by yourself.”

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research at the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK, said: "It is understandable that people sometimes might want to turn to the internet for help if they are worried about their health. But what this research shows once more is that people need to be careful when considering online tests for Alzheimer's.

"Scientifically unsound tests could potentially give a false diagnosis while offering no emotional support, which could be devastating for the person carrying it out.

"If people are worried about their memory, or any cognitive problem, it is important that they go and see their GP. Only then can they get a proper diagnosis which will open the door to information, support and potentially treatments which can enable people to live well with dementia."

An estimated 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It is estimated that this figure could reach 13.8 million by 2050. 

Tags: Alzheimer's diagnosis, Alzheimer's symptoms, Alzheimer's test



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