The researchers researching on Alzheimer’s are looking into our eyes and noses for the early symptoms of the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2016 conducted a couple of studies in.
These studies recommended that aged adults with declining ability to identify odors might be at risk of cognitive decline. A couple of other presentations discovered several varieties of eye examinations as potential predictors of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common varieties of dementia that causes problems with behavior, thinking, and memory.
Heather Snyder is the director of scientific and medical operations of the Alzheimer’s Association. He says that the four studies signify a positive step towards earlier detecting and involvement.
Catching a major health issue sooner rather than later can prevent the worst from taking place in several cases. However, diagnosing Alzheimer’s in its early stages is difficult. Certain symptoms like failing memory can be difficult to differentiate from the common symptoms of old age.
There are other signs like confusion which might appear only post significant damage of the brain. Toxic amyloid plaque is an abnormal structure within the brain, which can drive Alzheimer’s disease. Years prior to a patient showing Alzheimer’s signs, PET scans can show plaque in the brain.
On the other hand, spinal taps can expose plaque in the cerebrospinal fluid. Regrettably, PET scans tend to be expensive, while lumbar punctures cause acute pain. The doctors would, therefore, like to go for a noninvasive and low-cost test for diagnosing Alzheimer’s early. As per Snyder, this type of test can result in dramatic improvisations in the early uncovering and administration of Alzheimer’s.
With the urge to find this type of test, two teams of researchers from Columbia University were brought together. They put forward work based on 40-item UPSIT or University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Tests.
The assistant professor of clinical Biostatistics namely Seonjoo Lee and her other colleagues took the help of around 397 non-demented individuals aged 80. The participants received UPSIT tests and brain scans from Lee.
They were then followed for more than four years. A total of 49 individuals developed Alzheimer’s disease during this time. Nearly one in five participants showed the symptoms of compromised mental function.
Lee found that the participants scoring low on the odor test were at an increased risk of showing a mental decline. They showed low on the odor tests towards the beginning and later showed a mental decline.
The participants with scans showing a slight thinning in brain area were at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. This thinning in one area of the brain plays an important role in mental function or memory. It is the very first brain area affected by the Alzheimer’s disease.
Another unrelated study by Dr. William Kreisl discovered smell scores in a blend with cerebrospinal fluid and brain scans. This study comprised of 84 participants with early signs of compromised memory. They were even 26 healthy participants. Around 67% participants showed complete memory decline at six months.
Examining this data, researchers explored that the symptoms of plaque in the spinal fluid or brain scan predicted a decline. But the scores of the smell test did not. However, participants with less than 35 UPSIT scores had an increased chance to decline.
This was in comparison to the ones with scores more than 35. In one of his statements, Kreisl said, “odor identification, the examination can serve as a useful tool to help physicians guide patients. This will probably be patients concerned about their chances of complete loss of memory.”
This idea has worked for a very long time. There are a number of studies indicating how odor examination might predict a definite succession. This succession would be from mild or normal cognitive impairment to worse functionality level.
There is another great idea that researchers have studied in accordance to Alzheimer’s disease. This idea is about retinal thickness. Fresh research by Dr. Fang Ko is the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology discovered retinal thickness to be a predictor. The thickness of the layer of retinal nerve fiber predicts memory loss along with various other mental weaknesses. The thickness of the retinal layer decreases with age.
For this study, Ko carried out eye tests, cognitive tests, surveys and physical exams on 33, 068 participants. He found a considerable link between poor cognition and thinner layers. Perhaps, participants with low scores in the test had thinner layers of the retinal nerve fiber.
“Results like these occur every now and then, but they do not work for careful scrutiny” Dr. Samuel E. Gandy. He is the professor of psychiatry and neurology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinia Hospital. Unluckily the reports are never “reproducible or robust” said Gandy.
In another study of the eye, Melanie Campbell along with her colleagues tried detecting amyloid protein deposits in the retina. Melanie Campbell is the professor of Physics at the University of Waterloo.
Because the eye serves as a window to the human brain, the study group examined diseased eyes of around 20 people. The group also examined the diseased eyes of six dogs along with a total of 22 healthy retinas. The study also included the healthy retinas of 7 dogs.
Campbell explained, “we had a look at the eyes of the deceased animals, live animals and people.” There were two important results. The research group affirmed that amyloid could be seen in the retinas of the people and the animals with Alzheimer’s. It is important to note that amyloid deposits were found prior to the beginning of cognitive impairment.
The second result was where Campbell verified her polarization procedure. This procedure involves optics measuring lights reflecting off amyloid deposits in the eye. It suggested that the procedure was equally sensitive if used with or without dye.
It serves as the key to gaining the ability to perform the examination on the human beings. If results are held up post more extensive researches, this eye test might serve as the best test for diagnosing Alzheimer’s in the perfect manner.