Scientists have come up with a cutting edge technology that would help in detecting Alzheimer’s disease with almost perfect precision.
The new brain- scanning technique gives new hope for diagnosing the disease in its initial stages, even before symptoms develop completely and also indicates that there will be fewer chances of misdiagnosis.
The test is presently in the final clinical trial stages and if the results continue to prove successful, it could be rolled out by the end of 2012, the Daily Mail reported.
So far, the only way to diagnose Alzheimer’s (AD) was by ruling out other diseases like cancer, depression or even a vitamin deficiency.
Definitive conclusion came only after the death of the individual, when the brain samples containing high levels of beta amyloid plaques, the growths that characterise AD, were found.
But now a new compound called Flutemetamol, which highlights areas of the brain that are affected by the disease when scanned, is showing hopeful results in clinical studies.
The compound is injected into the arm of the patients and those who show symptoms of AD undergo a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan.
If beta amyloid plaques are present in the brain, Flutemetamol makes them glow red, which confirms the patient has AD.
The second phase of the Flutemetamol study was finished earlier this year. In the study, 65 patients suffering with AD and other degenerative mental-health conditions with less than a year to live were given Flutemetamol to observe what PET scans revealed.
Post-mortem results divulged that when a specialist alone tried to diagnose each case, 15% of diagnoses were wrong. However, by using Flutemetamol there was only a seven per cent failure rate.
Any errors during the scan were because low levels of beta amyloid plaques do not essentially mean a patient has developed full-blown AD.
However, many experts believe that having a positive amyloid scan may signify the risk of developing AD in the future.
“What makes the results so revolutionary is that it makes both a correct and an earlier diagnosis possible for the first time,” said Dr Francois Nicolas, director of neurology at GE Health, the company that is developing Flutemetamol.
“This could significantly increase the quality and even the length of a patient’s life.”
“Equally, those whose scan shows no signs of AD can be given the appropriate treatment they need too,” he added.