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New hope for Alzheimer’s diagnosis


29 July, 2008  

Hospital doctors could soon be able to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease using computer-based methods and conventional MRI equipment, as opposed to high-powered alternatives, according to new research.

This year’s International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease (ICAD) in Chicago will be presented with the findings of three studies to back up the claims. One study successfully used conventional MRI scans to identify brain plaques in animals, while the other two used computers to analyse MRI images.

Currently, the only way to definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s is by post-mortem examination for amyloid plaques or other tell-tale lesions in the brain.

Dr William Thies, vice-president of Medical and Scientific Relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, said: “As we get closer to the development of therapies that can slow or even stop the progression of Alzheimer’s, earlier detection of the disease becomes crucial for early intervention.

“Early evaluation and diagnosis is also important because some Alzheimer’s-like symptoms can be reversed if they are caused by treatable conditions, such as depression, drug interaction, or thyroid problems.”

He added that early diagnosis could also open up other possibilities, including the opportunity for hospitals to participate in studies of experimental drugs or other disease modifying treatments.

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Alzheimer’s Association