Researchers in Sweden have made a significant discovery that could help people suffering from a brain illness called Lewy body disease.
This illness is behind some cases of dementia and Parkinson’s disease. The discovery provides a new way to detect this disease early on, potentially before symptoms even appear.
Let’s break down why this is big news and what it could mean for future treatment.
What is Lewy Body Disease?
First, let’s talk about Lewy body disease. If you’re not familiar with it, you’re not alone.
It’s not as widely talked about as Alzheimer’s, but it’s the second most common cause of serious memory and thinking problems, known as dementia. In simple terms, it’s a brain disease that affects your ability to think and move.
It gets its name from small clumps of protein that build up in the brain, called “Lewy bodies.”
These are not the kinds of proteins you’d find in a steak or a bean; they’re tiny particles in our brains that have folded the wrong way and clumped together.
These clumps can cause all kinds of trouble, including difficulty moving and clouded thinking. Sometimes, people with this illness are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease if they mainly have movement problems.
If they mainly have thinking and memory issues, they’re diagnosed with a form of dementia called Lewy body dementia.
Previously, the only way to confirm that someone had Lewy body disease was to look at their brain after they had died.
But now, thanks to scientists at Lund University in Sweden, there’s a way to test for this disease while a person is still alive.
A Simple Test for Early Detection
The Swedish researchers performed a new test on more than 1,100 people who seemed healthy, with no noticeable problems in their thinking or movement.
What they found was startling: nearly 10% of those tested had early signs of Lewy bodies in their brains.
To make this discovery, the researchers didn’t need to look directly into the brain.
Instead, they examined the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, much like a mechanic might check the oil in a car to see if the engine has a problem.
Their test was able to find tiny traces of the troublesome proteins that cause Lewy body disease.
If these results hold up in future studies, it could mean that doctors will be able to tell if someone is at risk for Lewy body disease long before they start showing any symptoms.
This is important because the earlier you catch a disease, the easier it is to manage or treat it.
The Connection to Smell and What Comes Next
One more interesting tidbit from the research was the link between Lewy body disease and a person’s sense of smell. People who had signs of the disease were also having difficulty smelling things properly.
This could mean that a simple smell test could serve as a first step in screening for this illness, especially for those over the age of 60.
While there is still a long way to go in developing a cure for Lewy body disease, this test could be a game-changer.
It could help researchers figure out how to slow down or even stop the disease if they can catch it early enough.
The scientists are also optimistic about developing a blood test for Lewy body disease, similar to existing tests for Alzheimer’s.
In summary, the researchers in Sweden have taken a critical step forward. While there are still many questions to answer, their discovery provides a glimmer of hope for those affected by Lewy body disease and their loved ones.
With early detection, there’s a better chance of managing the disease effectively, offering a better quality of life for many.
If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies that Vitamin B may slow down cognitive decline, and Mediterranean diet could help lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that blueberry supplements may prevent cognitive decline, and results showing Plant-based diets could protect cognitive health from air pollution.
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