For the first time, we might actually be able to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease before someone dies. A recent New York Times article featured a huge breakthrough in the diagnosis of this disease.
A company called Avid, has found a dye that attaches itself to the specific amyloid plaque that causes Alzheimer’s disease. This dye can be detected using a PET scan.
It is even possible to detect Alzheimer’s early on, before patients develop symptoms. Early testing indicates that the build of amyloid starts well before anybody considers an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. At the same time, those who have this plaque build up, perform less well on memory and other cognitive tests than those who don’t show this development.
The test has not yet been approved by the FDA. Avid founder Dr. Skovronsky is optimistic though. The full data of the study that indicates the success of this test will be presented on July 11 at the meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association in Honolulu, according to the New York Times.
Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s
Here is why this is big news.
At this point, the only way to know for sure if someone has Alzheimer’s disease is by a biopsy of the brain. The biopsy can show the build up of amyloid plaque on specific parts of the brain. It is that build of plaque that is Alzheimer’s. Of course, a biopsy can only be done after you died.
Because a definitive diagnosis is impossible when somebody is alive, a full 20% of those who were thought to have Alzheimer’s, did not have it. Their dementia was caused by other factors.
I know of no other disease where a false positive diagnosis of 20% occurs. Think about it. That would mean that one in five of those who receive a diagnosis of lung cancer did not have it. Or, one in five of HIV diagnoses turned out to be false. The number is simply staggering. That is why this test is huge.
This was recently reported by the New York Times.
Of course, there still is no treatment for Alzheimer’s, nor do we know what causes the disease.
The common wisdom has it that a combination of genetic and environmental factors cause Alzheimer’s. We don’t control our genes, but we do control the interaction of our genes with the environment. Genes don’t just sit in your body doing stuff. They get activated by certain triggers, and you can control those triggers.
Genes do not determine your fate. Don’t ever believe that. On my site, I will provide you with strategies you can use to make sure that you control what you can, and possibly even prevent Alzheimer’s disease altogether, no matter what your genetic make-up.