TECH

New Brain Scan Technique Can Spot Alzheimer's 15 Years Before Symptoms Appear

We have a powerful new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer's.

11/05/2016 09:45

Scientists have developed a new brain scanning technique which could detect the signs of Alzheimer's 15 years before symptoms traditionally start to appear.

The new cutting-edge technology is being trailed by Professor Nick Fox at the Dementia Research Centre at UCLH. 

Evan Vucci/AP

Using a technique called emission tomography (PET) scans the scientists are able to use radioactive tracers which can then reveal the first signs of the disease.

Professor Fox said: “This is a very exciting time. There is a new window of opportunity. New technology allows us to see the first signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, earlier than we ever could before.”

The professor's work along with a range of revolutionary new treatments are being examined in a new episode of Horizon called 'Curing Alzheimer's'.

Along with the detection method, the programme also looks at a drug which has been making waves in the field of Alzheimer's prevention.

Svisio via Getty Images

Aducanumab has been shown to massively reduce amyloid plaque, a hallmark of the disease as well as slowing cognitive decline among those suffering.

The drug has been so successful that Al Sandrock, Chief Medical officer of Biogen, which manufactures the drug said that early results show: “If we treat early enough, we may stave off Alzheimer’s disease completely and we may never have to worry about it again.”

Finally the programme looks at how new drugs are helping to assist people who are already suffering from the early stages of the disease.

Professor Robert Wurtman from MIT, Boston has been working with mice to discover that extra doses of brain building nutrients like Uridine, Choline and DHA can help increase the production of brain synapses.

10 Symptoms For Alzheimer's

  • 1 Finding it difficult to complete home tasks
    Alexandra Grablewski via Getty Images
    The Alzheimer's Association says that people who have the illness will find it difficult to complete daily tasks - this could range from cleaning to forgetting the rules of a game played regularly.
  • 2 Finding it hard to read and understand visual images.
    Rob Lewine via Getty Images
    The Alzheimer's Association claim that people may find it hard to read or understand certain images if suffering from the disease. They also may find it difficult to determine colour or contrast, which may stop them from driving.
  • 3 Misplacing things
    ladi59 via Getty Images
    People with Alzheimer's may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and also accuse others of stealing. This may become more and more frequent.
  • 4 Confusion with time or places.
    mediaphotos via Getty Images
    The Alzheimer's Association says that people who have the condition can lose track of time, dates and seasons. Sufferers may have trouble understanding things if they are not happening promptly. They may also lose track of where they are and how they got there.
  • 5 Solving problems.
    Martin Barraud via Getty Images
    Sufferers may feel changes in their ability to follow a plan or work with numbers. They'll probably have trouble following a basic recipe, or keeping track of monthly bills. They might find it difficult to concentrate and take much longer to do things than they did before. Source: Alzheimer's Association
  • 6 Withdrawel from social activities.
    Ryan McVay via Getty Images
    Someone with Alzheimer's may remove themselves from certain hobbies/interests and social activities.
  • 7 Mood changes
    The Welfare & Medical Care via Getty Images
    The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer's disease can change, they can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone. Source: Alzheimer's Association
  • 8 Decreased or poor judgment.
    Martin Moos via Getty Images
    People with Alzheimer's may have poor judgment. This can include confusion over how much money they should spend. They may also pay less attention to grooming and cleaning themselves regularly. Source: Alzheimer's Association
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