Posted on Jul 20, 2012 | Comments 0
Alzheimer’s disease is a terrible condition into which a lot of research is ongoing. Recent breakthroughs show that it may be possible to predict Alzheimer’s well in advance. There have also been fresh developments in the drug trials relating to Alzheimer’s treatment that could possibly address the underlying mechanism for of the disease.
Early warning signs of Alzheimer’s
Walking disorders could be the warning sign of Alzheimer’s say new studies. An uneven or slow gait, altered rhythm or pace or the size of steps could be signs of the neurological illness say researchers. Looking at and monitoring the changes in a person’s walk is a simple and effective tool; one that requires no high tech equipment.
This is because walking requires complex coordination between several areas of the brain. When this is impaired, it interferes with the circuitry between different areas of the brain which causes the changes in gait. In the study, those who displayed the most changes in the way they walked also showed cognitive and memory declines.
Another way to predict Alzheimer’s as much as 25 years before the actual onset of the disease is a detected drop in spinal fluid levels. As the plaques in the brain are the main cause of this degenerative brain disease they are another indicator. Brain scans could detect the presence of plaques as much as 15 years before symptoms such as memory loss start.
Increased levels of tau (a spinal fluid) and shrinking of parts of the brain could indicate that Alzheimer’s is a likelihood. An impairment of the brain’s uptake of glucose can be detected 10 years before full blown symptoms occur – this could be associated with slight memory problems.
Doctors are hopeful that these studies to detect Alzheimer’s earlier will help in arresting the progress of the disease and possibly improve treatments and disease prognoses.
The latest on Alzheimer’s treatment
Several drug companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Alzheimer’s research which could be at a very interesting stage now.
The treatment is oriented towards removing the amyloid plaques that are thought to be responsible for the degenerative disease. These are sticky clumps of protein known as beta amyloid and researchers are hopeful that preventing or removing these could help defeat the disease.
Considering the fact that Alzheimer’s drugs currently available offer limited efficacy at best, this could be good news indeed.