Alzheimer's already recognizable by new methods ten years before the outbreak
A research group led by the Leipzig nuclear medicine doctor Osama Sabri succeeded in developing a special tomography for the early detection of Alzheimer's. The new method could make the Alzheimer's typical protein deposits in the brain visible up to ten years before the onset of the disease. However, the German Alzheimer Society does not see the new procedure as being of great benefit to patients as long as there are no effective healing therapies. Because treatment approaches such as the development of an inhibitor are still scientific dreams of the future.
Protein deposits in the brain of Alzheimer's patients long before the onset of the disease In Germany, around 700,000 people suffer from "Alzheimer's". Experts estimate that the number could double by 2050. The degenerative disease begins with easy forgetfulness and develops into pronounced dementia.
At the 50th annual meeting of the German Society for Nuclear Medicine in Bremen, two substances are to be presented that can make the changes in the brain of Alzheimer's patients visible ten years before the first symptoms appear. The nuclear medicine doctor Osama Sabri and his team use a special tomography, positron emission tomography. The protein deposits typical of Alzheimer's, so-called beta-amyloid plaques, develop at least ten years before the first memory disorders occur, says Sabri. To make them visible, the researchers are using new, low-radiation substances, radiopharmaceuticals, in tomography. Sabri reports that the product of a pharmaceutical company has already been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition, a marker developed by the Leipzig researchers with a marker developed will very likely come onto the market this year.
Effectiveness of drugs against Alzheimer's can be checked with a new procedure "This is a significant improvement in diagnostics," explains Sabri. On the one hand, a possible illness could be discovered earlier, and on the other hand, other forms of dementia could also be distinguished. A study is currently ongoing for a second substance, involving 20 patients with early Alzheimer's disease. The marker is intended to detect a disturbance of certain receptors in the brain that cause soluble precursors of the protein deposits. So far, this has only been possible through complex measurements, explains Sabri. The new process improves the image quality and also shortens the time in the tube. In addition, the effectiveness of Alzheimer's medication can be checked. "The new procedures improve patient care," says the director of the clinic and polyclinic for nuclear medicine at the University of Leipzig. But that is only the beginning, because there is still no successful therapy for Alzheimer's.
No successful therapy for Alzheimer's so far. The German Alzheimer's Society sees the new method for early detection of Alzheimer's as scientifically interesting, but as little useful for those affected. "Nowadays, however, this will not help patients as long as no therapy is available," explains Hans-Jürgen Freter, spokesman for the company. "It will certainly not be possible to say whether the disease will break out at the age of 70, 80 or 90." In addition, protein deposits in the brain also occur in people who never develop Alzheimer's. The existing diagnostic methods have so far been used too rarely, according to Freter. These include, for example, psychological tests and computer tomography. These procedures are sufficient if they are used. Those affected should go to the doctor as soon as possible, who should take the symptoms seriously and initiate appropriate diagnostic procedures. The progression of the disease can be delayed by about a year by medication, reports Freter.
Not every dementia is not the same as Alzheimer's disease. Although Alzheimer's suffer from dementia, not everyone suffering from dementia, on the other hand, also suffers from "Alzheimer's disease". In order to find out the type of dementia that a sufferer suffers from, physicians have access to neuropsychological tests as well as imaging methods such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which can be used to detect deposits typical of Alzheimer's in the brain.
For appropriate and appropriate therapy and care, it is imperative to differentiate Alzheimer's from other diseases with overlapping symptoms. These include brain tumors and injuries, age-related forgetfulness, depression in the elderly, autism, metabolic disorders (low blood sugar) in diabetics, simple aphasia and psychoses. Experts believe that the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's is age. Not least because of this, a drastic increase in Alzheimer's is expected in the future. (ag)
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