Dementia Test on IPad

A dementia diagnosis usually starts with a family member noticing that something isn’t quite right: a partner becoming forgetful, a normally placid parent losing their temper more often. From there, there are doctor’s appointments—memory and behavior tests that haven’t changed in years, brain scans if the money is there, or one of the battery of new blood tests looking for the biomarkers of brain damage. And then: nothing.

Neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s are more feared than cancer and heart disease combined, according to a 2016 survey, and one of the most frightening things about them is how little we still know. There are no cures, and few effective treatments.

So you might question the benefits of a 5-minute test that can assess your risk of getting dementia before you show any symptoms. The Integrated Cognitive Assessment (ICA) test, developed by the British startup Cognetivity Neurosciences, has been granted Food and Drug Administration clearance to be marketed in the United States and is being trialled at several NHS trusts in the UK. But is there any point in taking a test for a disease you can’t do anything about?

The ICA is designed as a “semi-supervisedscreening test, says Cognetivity CEO Sina Habibi. It could form part of an annual health check-up for the over-50s, looking for the earliest signs of neurodegenerative disease before they become apparent in behavior.In the same way you look at blood pressure, you could look at the brain with a cognitive test to see if there’s something malfunctioning,” he says.

An early diagnosis could help people plan ahead and put their affairs in order—but arguably that’s something they should probably be doing anyway. Lifestyle tweaks such as eating less fat, exercising more, or drinking less can also reduce risk, particularly in vascular dementia, which is caused by poor blood supply to the brain and is therefore closely linked to heart health.

The procedure runs on an iPad. A zebra appears onscreen and then disappears, replaced by a railway bridge. There are flashes of beach scenes in black and white, and then a glimpse of an exotic bird, all interspersed with monochrome grids and fuzzy static—a captcha at warp speed. The user’s task is simple: They tap on the right side of the screen whenever they see an animal in one of the pictures, and on the left side when they don’t.

Eyes Provide Peek at Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

Protein deposits in retina and brain appear to parallel possible neurodegeneration, an insight that might lead to easier, quicker detection. Amyloid plaques are protein deposits that collect between brain cells, hindering function and eventually leading to neuronal death. They are considered a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and the focus of multiple investigations designed to reduce or prevent their formation, including the nationwide A4 study.

But amyloid deposits may also occur in the retina of the eye, often in patients clinically diagnosed with AD, suggesting similar pathologies in both organs. In a small, cross-sectional study, a team of researchers, led by scientists at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, compared tests of retinal and brain amyloids in patients from the A4 study and another study (Longitudinal Evaluation of Amyloid Risk and Neurodegeneration) assessing neurodegeneration risk in persons with low levels of amyloid.

Like the proverbial “windows to the soul,” the researchers observed that the presence of retinal spots in the eyes correlated with brain scans showing higher levels of cerebral amyloid. The finding suggests that non-invasive retinal imaging may be useful as a biomarker for detecting early-stage AD risk.

Amyloid deposits tagged by curcumin fluoresce in a retinal scan.

This was a small initial dataset from the screening visit. It involved eight patients,” said senior author Robert Rissman, PhD, professor of neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “But these findings are encouraging because they suggest it may be possible to determine the onset, spread and morphology of AD — a preclinical diagnosis — using retinal imaging, rather than more difficult and costly brain scans. We look forward to seeing the results of additional timepoint retinal scans and the impact of solanezumab (a monoclonal antibody) on retinal imaging. Unfortunately we will need to wait to see and analyze these data when the A4 trial is completed.”

The findings published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

https://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/

Blood Test For Alzheimer’s Detects Signs 20 years Before Falter

A new blood test detected Alzheimer’s disease as accurately as expensive brain scans or spinal taps, raising the possibility for a new, inexpensive option to diagnose the most common form of dementia, researchers said. Researchers at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference presented the results of multiple studies of whether a blood test could distinguish Alzheimer’s disease from other forms of dementia.

In one study published in JAMA, researchers said the blood test could could identify Alzheimer’s disease and even detected signs of disease 20 years before cognitive problems were expected in a group of people who carry a rare genetic mutation. A blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease early could be more precise than memory and thinking tests now used to diagnose the disease. Invasive and expensive brain scans and spinal taps that measure spinal fluid are used, but insurance does not always cover those tests. Researchers reported the blood test measuring the protein tau accurately distinguished Alzheimer’s from other forms of dementia in 89% to 98% of cases.

It is a promising blood test that seems to be highly accurate and seems to detect (Alzheimer’s) relatively early,” said Dr. Eric Reiman, a researcher in one of the studies and executive director of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix

But experts warned it could take a few years to validate a blood test as a reliable option for both doctors and researchers. And would patients want to know they are destined to develop memory and thinking problems if there are no reliable medications to slow the deadly disease?

Randall J. Bateman, a Washington University neurology professor and Alzheimer’s researcher, said blood tests could be useful both for patients and doctors as well scientists studying new drugs to slow the mind-robbing disease. Doctors might use the test to accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s earlier and begin treatments with existing Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs that ease symptoms, if not mental decline. But perhaps the bigger payoff would come for accelerating research for new drugs that seek to slow or halt a disease that afflicts 5.8 million older Americans. Drug companies for decades have developed therapies targeting amyloid proteins on the theory it is responsible for scuttling memory and thinking in Alzheimer’s patients. Some recent studies have sought to administer drugs targeting these proteins before memory and thinking problems emerge.

Source: https://jamanetwork.com/ 
And
https://eu.usatoday.com/