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New Alzheimer’s Detection

Recently many news outlets reported on guidelines proposed by scientists and published in  Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association on new definitions of Alzheimer’s disease. The proposal is to define the disease based on biological signs, such as brain changes, rather than memory loss and other symptoms of dementia that are used today. This is a significant shift to a more proactive approach since most often once symptoms appear the disease has advanced. Like cancer, identifying the disease prior to occurrence of symptoms may have positive outcomes for treatment options.

This shift may have significant improvements in the search for effective future treatments. “Dozens of hoped-for treatments have failed, and doctors think one reason may be that the studies enrolled patients after too much brain damage had already occurred. [sic] Another problem: as many as 30 percent of people enrolled in Alzheimer’s studies based on symptoms didn’t actually have the disease — they had other forms of dementia or even other medical conditions.” Not only is early detection key to treatability, but also choosing treatment options for the correct disease.

The Health Nucleus focuses on identification of risk through whole genome sequencing as well as early detection of disease through imaging. Our volumetric brain MRI can give a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the brain. Our test looks for evidence of neurodegeneration (dementia-related atrophy), brain tumors, white matter changes and structural abnormalities. Non-contrast, high-resolution images of the arteries that supply the brain evaluate for areas of significant stenosis (narrowing) or aneurysms.

In addition, our genetic testing can identify common and rare variants that increase the lifetime and short-term disease risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.