The AP is reporting on Washington University professor Anne Fagan Niven’s new diagnostic approach to Alzheimer’s:
Researchers examined two dozen people, including some in the early stages of dementia and some with no symptoms of disease. They drew fluid from the volunteers’ spinal columns and determined the levels of a protein called Amyloid-beta 42 in the fluid.
The protein builds up in brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease and forms plaques, which kill brain cells, producing memory loss and other disease symptoms.
Researchers found that people with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease had low levels of the A-beta 42 protein in their spinal fluid.
Fagan Niven’s team also used PIB to detect plaques on CT scans. Significantly, a few patients were found with low A-beta 42, and brain plaques, but no signs of congnitive decline. They’re being followed closely.
In general, there’s a huge thrust to slow Alzheimer’s progression while patients still have good mental function. This technique is based on the simple spinal tap, with a twist. Yet it’s not as well-defined, or as curious, as the Alzheimer’s BMI dip we blogged about recently.
More from Professor Fagan Niven…