Diagnosing and treating patients more effectively earlier will, even if you aren’t able to instigate a cure, offer the ability to modify the disease progression and slow or delay when brain damage occurs. In the case of Alzheimer’s, once the amyloid plaques (tangles of misshapen proteins) have accumulated in nervous tissue, it has so far been impossible to untangle or remove them.
Changes in brain structure, function and molecular processes occur several years before clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) become apparent.
The big question then, is can you detect patients who are cognitively normal, but will go on to develop AD before they show symptoms, i.e. pre-symptomatic patients? The answer is “Yes” according to results published in the April 19, 2011 issue of Neurology by Brad Dickerson and colleagues.