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Alison Beaver

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The Future of Alzheimer's Disease

By Katie Meakem
 
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The Future of Alzheimer's Disease 3 5 4
Alzheimer's disease detection decades before symptoms
Auremar/PhotoSpin

In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear after age 60, according to the National Institute of Aging. Now researchers say they have detected Alzheimer's among a group with genetic markers as early as 18 years of age.

A recent study, published in the Lancet Neurology, found brain abnormalities in young adults of a Colombian family at genetic risk to develop an early form of Alzheimer’s.

Previous studies showed effects on the brain 10-15 years before Alzheimer’s symptoms arose, BBC reported.

The group of researchers at the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Arizona looked at brain scans of 20 people between the ages of 18 and 26 with the mutation.

Their brain scans showed differences compared with the brain scans of 24 people not predisposed for the early-onset of Alzheimer’s. The fluid of the family of destined Alzheimer’s patients had higher levels of beta-amyloid as well. Beta-amyloid is the fluid that coats the brain and spinal cord.

BBC reported that Alzheimer's normally becomes apparent after the age of 75, however, a genetic mutation means disease may hit patients in their 40s. Treating the disease early is vital to prevent damage to memory and cognitive abilities.

There are no symptoms during the preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, but toxic brain changes are occurring. Abnormal deposits of proteins form amyloid plaques throughout the brain and neurons begin to work less efficiently, the National Institute of Aging said. Over time, neurons lose the ability to communicate with each other, ultimately dying.

Researchers have pinpointed biomarkers, brain imaging and cognitive assessment as ways to reveal progression of Alzheimer’s, Mayoclinic.com said.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, experts believe that biomarkers offer one of the most promising treatments. Biomarkers include proteins in blood or spinal fluid, mutations or brain changes and are reliable predictors of disease process.

Currently, there are no validated biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease, said the Alzheimer’s Association.

As many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease, the National Institute of Aging said.

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Anonymous

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November 18, 2012 - 4:08pm
Daniel Lexington_2

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November 16, 2012 - 11:35pm
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