In an article titled, “Scientists Push Plan to Change How Researchers Define Alzheimer’s”, Jon Hamilton addresses the concept that Alzheimer’s should not be identified through signs and symptoms but rather through biological changes in the brain.
Scientists are stating Alzheimer’s should be determined in an individual through more physical traits such as plaques, calcium and other abnormal protein build up in their brain rather than the symptoms of the disease such as memory loss and thinking problems. Clifford Jack, an Alzheimer’s researcher at Mayo Clinic Rochester stated this would make the “symptoms become the result of the disease, not the definition of the disease”. A coalition of scientists have been pushing this plan to change the way people define Alzheimer’s for several reasons.
It became apparent the method of determining the disease was ineffective when researchers found nearly 30 percent of people who met all appropriate clinical criteria did not have Alzheimer’s disease in a case involving experimental drugs for the disease. Pushing this plan would also bring possible early treatment plans for those with the Alzheimer’s gene when identified through biomarkers. The tests being done involve special brain scans and tests of spinal fluid. Eliezer Masliah, director of the Division of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging believes the preventive treatment could begin five years before the onset of the symptoms. Currently tests scientists are pushing researchers to use; spinal fluid tests and brain scans, are only meant for researchers not physicians however some doctors are already using these tests to help narrow their results of the patient’s pathology and have found success.
I chose to write about this for the main reason of my Grandmother having had the disease, Alzheimer’s. Due to Alzheimer’s being more prevalent in women, it prompts the questions of whether my mom, sister or I will end up getting the disease. For years my mother has taken memory-specific nutrients and vitamins to help prevent the likelihood of getting the incurable disease, however, with the new knowledge this article has given me, there are more options to consider when it comes to treatments. Tests can be taken to define Alzheimer’s accurately and before any serious symptoms occur; my mother, sister and I may have the possible future option of getting a treatment plan early on, of five years! This is huge. Getting an early diagnosis could help a lot, as taking any treatment plan can help temporarily alleviate symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.