Using a new diagnostic method, scientists have found a way to detect early signs of alzheimer's disease. Because the illness results in deterioration of the brain over time, it is important to detect it as early as possible, to increase treatment options. The new method, developed by scientists from the National Brain Research Center in India, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is based on a brain scan combined with a tool that assesses brain chemistry. Fortunately, the diagnostic process is completely non-invasive, making it not too hard to bear for patients.
The brain scan part is slightly different from a traditional MRI scan, and is dubbed magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). Researchers performed brain scans to assess whether their tool is able to find anomalies in the hippocampus, a brain area involved with memory and one of the earliest victims of alzheimer's. Specifically, MRS is able to detect changes in metabolism. Because the brain needs a lot of energy to keep itself going, there is a high degree of metabolism, making MRS an excellent tool to detect changes in brain structures. It works with magnetism, which is used increasingly often to diagnose disease.
Secondly, researchers used their chemical analysis to detect the pH level in the brain. It is known that when the brain ages, it becomes more acidic. For whatever reason, patients with alzheimer's show a shift to the opposite of acidic: their brain becomes more alkaline. pH is a measurement of acidity, with values ranging between 1 and 7 regarded as acidic, and between 7 and 14 as alkaline. It is an important factor in body chemistry, as a shift in pH has a pronounced effect on metabolism and other processes in the body. Additional chemical analysis revealed four compounds that differ in concentration between alzheimer's patients, healthy control subjects and people with a mild form of dementia.
The scientists claim their diagnostic method is able to detect signs of alzheimer's early in the disease. Chemical changes forebode detectable symptoms of the disease, which is why the aforementioned markers may prove to be an excellent tool to get a definitive diagnosis as fast as possible. Because alzheimer's disease greatly impacts a patient's life and their surroundings, being able to detect it as early as possible is highly beneficial. It allows prospective patients to make arrangements for the ever-progressing deterioration of their brain. Perhaps even more important is that an early diagnosis can make treatment more effective.