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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Early Detection of Alzheimer's

This could be good news for many people.

Hey folks,

Time for the Health and Science Segment. Some of you know that I had a friend named Vera. When I met her, she was about 88 years young. Sharp as a tack and full of life. As a matter of fact, she always took credit, of which I am happy to give her, for bringing me and Laura {My Wife} together.

I would sit with her and smoke, tell stories, and just enjoy her company. So would Laura at different times. Then Vera started telling me that Laura was a beautiful Girl and that she thinks that Laura likes me. At the same time, she was telling Laura about how "handsome" I was and that she thought we would make a great couple.

Now there is an eight year age difference between me and Laura. So I was a bit hesitant to say the least. But Vera persistent, and one day me and Laura went out for coffee to talk about Vera.

That was about Five years, and our Son Joshua, ago. The rest as they say is history. When Josh was born, as soon as medically cleared to do so, we brought him into the Nursing Home to see Vera. She was amazed at Joshua and we would then continue to visit with Vera for about a year after.

Then all of a sudden Vera would get a little confused. Sometimes she thought I was her late Husband and sometimes her Son Inlaw. Sometimes she remembered Laura and sometimes she thought that Laura was her Daughter.

It was truly sad to watch time slip by and Vera fade away. Once a vibrate, precious little Lady, with the wisdom of Yoda and the experience of a long life, to nothing more than a shell of what she once was.

Vera passed on at the ripe old age of 92. I hope that there is a special place set aside in Heaven for this precious little Lady.

I know a lot about sickness and disease. My Grandfather had Parkinson's, my Grandmother had a Heart problem, my Father had Cancer, Emphysema, Asthma, and about 12 dozen circulatory problems, my Mother is having some medical issues right now we are dealing with. But Alzheimer's, Dementia, are really much worse in my opinion. The person you know and love is still there with you, yet not really. They are there but the person that they were is gone.

So I saw this. It really touched me. I hope that this is good news for anyone out there with loved ones suffering or starting to see the signs already themselves. According to Reuters - New test can detect early Alzheimer's: study

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A new test can accurately detect Alzheimer's disease in its earliest stages, before dementia symptoms surface and widespread damage occurs, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

The test, which measures proteins in spinal fluid that can point to Alzheimer's, was 87 percent accurate at predicting which patients with early memory problems and other symptoms of cognitive impairment would eventually be diagnosed with Alzheimer's, they said.

87 Percent! That is great news.

"With this test, we can reliably detect and track the progression of Alzheimer's disease," said Leslie Shaw of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, whose study appears in the Annals of Neurology.

Such tests, which look for so-called biomarkers of disease, can help researchers better focus trials of Alzheimer's treatments, Shaw said.

The test may also lead to better strategies to keep mild memory impairments from progressing into full-blown Alzheimer's disease, a fatal, mind-robbing ailment that is the most common form of dementia in the elderly, he added.

Many teams have been seeking ways to diagnose Alzheimer's in its early stages, which would allow doctors to give people drugs aimed at slowing the disease.

Shaw and colleagues set out to create a standardized test that focuses on levels of two classic hallmarks of Alzheimer's in the brain: amyloid beta protein, which forms sticky brain plaques, and abnormal levels of the protein tau, which forms fibrous tangles in the brain.

"What we are measuring is the amount of the tau protein and the concentration of the amyloid beta42 polypeptide," Shaw said in a telephone interview.

TEST ALSO RULES OUT DISEASE

The team evaluated spinal fluid taken from 410 patients who were part of a large Alzheimer's study.

They found people with low concentrations of amyloid beta42 were more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, presumably because the protein was accumulating in plaques in the brain.

They also found people with high levels of tau in their spinal fluid were more likely to develop the disease. "The release of tau into the fluid compartment is thought to be the result of the dying of the nerve cells. They release their contents," Shaw said.

He said these two measures accurately predicted which patients with memory problems would develop Alzheimer's disease in 87 percent of the cases. The test also ruled out the disease in 95.2 percent of the volunteers.

Shaw said the findings are encouraging both for patients and for drug companies, which may finally have a way diagnose the disease early on.

"The general consensus is you are going to have the best chance to improve Alzheimer's disease if you can catch it early, when there is more brain function there to preserve," he said.

An estimated 26 million people have Alzheimer's globally and experts predict this number will grow to 106 million by 2050.


Keep working on it Docs. Seriously. This is great news. I do not wish ANYONE to go through losing someone they love to this disease if we can find a simple way of detecting it. Let's work together and find a way to no only treat it in the early stages, but possibly even eliminate it all together.
Peter

Sources:
Reuters - New test can detect early Alzheimer's: study

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