Canadian researchers have developed an Alzheimer’s test that uses saliva in order to predict whether or not you’re in danger of developing the mental illness. The answer hides within certain chemical compounds that can be found in saliva.
The study was one of the projects presented this past Sunday (July 19, 2015) at the International Conference of the Alzheimer’s Association. It was not the only one that tried to find new biomarkers for the condition, but it was one of the stand outs. The researchers also explained that this approach has two (2) main advantages – it’s cheap and noninvasive.
Shraddha Sapkota, study leader and neuroscience graduate student over at the University of Alberta, gave a statement explaining that her and her team looked for the presence of metabolites in saliva.
Metabolites “are molecular byproducts of metabolism” and the research team wanted to know whether or not they could serve as a reliable early indicator that changes are happening in the brain’s metabolism and that they’re pointing at the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
For the projects, the experts used liquid chromatography mass spectrometry in order to examine their samples. They compared a group of normally aging adults who only exhibited mild cognitive impairment to a group of elderly adults who had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
What they found was that the higher the level of specific metabolites was, the more evidence of cognitive decline the researchers found. Maria C. Carrillo, chief science officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, gave a statement saying that the study is very promising. It allows physicians to only use tools that they already have in their regular offices in order to inform patients whether or not they should look into further testing.
There are, however, skeptics. Creighton H. Phelps, director at the Aging’s Alzheimer’s Disease Centers program from National Institute, gave a statement of his own, remarking that it would be very nice if medicine reached a point where doctors could ask patients to simply spit in a cup and learn whether or not the person is in danger of developing the disease. He admits that the idea is a good one, but stresses that the medical community had had really bad luck with these types of biomarkers in the past.
Another major study worth mentioning from the Alzheimer’s Association looked into the idea of examining brain fluid. Its goal is to look for an elevated presence of neurogranin, which is a protein that’s specific to the brain and has a very important part to play in conducting signals that help the synapses communicate with nerve cells. PET scans have also been suggested as a way of identifying inflammation, an element fatal to brain tissue.
Alzheimer’s research has not been picking up speed in recent years, but the medical community is still far from widely implementing a highly accurate method of diagnosing patients early. More than five (5) million elders are living with Alzheimer’s disease in the US alone, and the number is expected to reach 13.5 million by the time we hit 2050.
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