Scientists develop a better test for Alzheimer’s disease

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Over half a million Canadians are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia, and with a rapidly aging population, that number is projected to double by 2031.

In a new study from the University of British Columbia, researchers developed a new test that will help patients find the answers they are seeking and assist their families in planning in the face of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

The team developed a key component of the Alzheimer’s disease test, and worked with individuals with lived experience with dementia, along with health care providers and other partners, to implement a comprehensive diagnostic testing strategy.

The Alzheimer’s disease biomarker test, which is now made available to all Canadians, can help doctors accurately diagnose the disease even when only mild symptoms are present.

The test for Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers through this program can only be ordered by a doctor specializing in dementia care.

The doctor may recommend testing in individuals experiencing mild to moderate symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Measuring changes in these biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid, the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, helps doctors identify whether the cause of the symptoms may be due to Alzheimer’s disease and if the symptoms are likely to worsen over time.

With input from patients, their families, and their doctors, DeMarco and her colleagues are working to address barriers to uptake and use in the Canadian healthcare system.

Early and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is critical because timely access to health care and community services has the potential to lead to more effective treatment and improve quality of life.

Current approaches for diagnosis rely on imaging tests and observation of the signs and symptoms of the disease.

Adding the measure of proteins found in cerebrospinal fluid (biomarkers) has been shown to help correctly identify the disease and predict those with mild symptoms that are likely to progress to dementia.

If you care about Alzheimer’s disease, please read studies about subconscious changes in movement that may predict Alzheimer’s disease, and findings of 2 personality traits that may protect you from Alzheimer’s disease and more.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about new early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, and results showing that these existing drugs may help combat Alzheimer’s disease.

The study is published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring. One author of the study is Dr. Mari DeMarco.

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