Tag: diagnosis of Alzheimer
Canada, as most people will know, has an aging population and the issue of dementia has become more and more prevalent over the years, as it affects the ability of those afflicted, to live and function independently.
A strategy to address this problem is important given the statistics, however, another interesting aspect of this live issue is the work being done to develop a means of preventing and minimizing the impact of this disease on people in the future.
Dr. Rosanna Olsen is the leader and director of the Olsen Lab and a scientist at the Rotman Research Institute (RRI) at Baycrest as well as an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Olsen noted that early detection of dementia is important for effective treatment of the disease. Given that no test can currently detect dementia before the onset of symptoms, Dr. Olsen has undertaken research that will help in the development of non-invasive and cost-effective eye-tracking tests that will identify those at risk of dementia before the onset of the symptoms.
Dr. Olsen will receive $546,975.00 over five years for her work in establishing a set of new eye-tracking and brain-imaging biomarkers that will assist in the earlier detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
I, for one, am very interested in seeing the results of this study and how they may impact the detection of Alzheimer’s disease in the future.
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At present, there is no single diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, the diagnosis is reached when the medical practitioner (e.g. psychiatrist, general practitioner, geriatrician, or neurologist) has eliminated all other possible causes of the symptoms being experienced; an overview of these symptoms is provided in a previous Hull & Hull LLP blog of February 17, 2009. As a result, the diagnosis is generally coined ‘probable Alzheimer’s disease’ and this thin wedge of uncertainty often leads to an inability to accept the diagnosis as well as resistance to care and treatment. An autopsy is currently the only means of confirming the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Associated Press reported last week, however, that the first commercial version of a test designed to detect Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages could be available in as few as 12 to 18 months. According to Dr. Daniel Alkon, scientific director of the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (the Institute has teamed with Inverness Medical Innovations Inc. for this endeavour), the test works by detecting abnormal function of a protein that is known to be involved in memory storage.
Early diagnosis will have a multitude of benefits: incorrect diagnosis of the disease based primarily on a patient’s behaviour can be greatly reduced, lifestyle changes can be made which may slow the progression of the disease, the patient and their family may gain valuable time to plan for the future, and those with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease will have tangible information with which to move forward.
Jennifer Hartman, Guest Blogger