By the time doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s, the brain is already in big trouble. So researchers are trying to figure out how to detect the disease early on, and come up with treatments that can stop it.
Some studies are using an experimental dye called PIB that allows PET scans to detect amyloid, an Alzheimer’s-related protein, in the brain. Others are using MRI scans to look for early changes in the brain.
the Health Blog reported on a massive study under way at the Mayo Clinic, tracking thousands of elderly people over many years in an effort to find early signs of the disease.
Of course, even if researchers find early signs of the disease, the problem of finding drugs to slow or stop its progress will remain.
the Alzheimer’s community is already divided over widespread memory screening tests, with opponents arguing there’s no clear benefit and the possibility of added depression and anxiety.
The first morning of my new job I sat in a kid's size wooden chair in the "activity room" of the Alzheimer's unit of the assisted living facility.
The 20 or so residents seated in gliders and rockers were clearly waiting for the person in the kid's size wooden chair - me - to do something. Written on the white board beside the piano were promises of all sorts of interesting fun "activities" for the day ahead - exercise, cooking, word games, singalongs and so on.
Diseases like Alzheimer's actually destroy synapses in the human brain. There is still no recognized cure," said Dr. Alkon. "In our animal studies with Bryostatin, damaged brains repaired synaptic connections of cells that were ruined from disease, giving the brain more capacity for memory. If this result is applicable to humans, this could be life-changing for Alzheimer's patients.