Alzheimer's disease is one of those ailments that strikes fear throughout society, no matter what your socioeconomic standing. It does this for two simple reasons: There is no defined cause. And there is no known cure.
Folks suffering from Alzheimer's disease currently have no way of reversing the disease, no matter how much money they may have to throw at the problem. All that can be done is to help lessen the symptoms. A caregiver will be burdened with the patient at an increasing rate from diagnosis on.
But now there may be a development on the horizon that can at least help folks plan for how they might handle the disease better. British researchers have developed a blood test that will help predict when at-risk people will develop Alzheimer's.
"We want to be able to identify people to enter clinical trials earlier than they currently do and that's really what we've been aiming at," lead researcher Professor Simon Lovestone said.
The newly-developed test would help identify proteins in the blood of people with mild cognitive impairment. Presence of these proteins indicates that the patient would develop Alzheimer's within a year. The test appears to be 87% accurate.
Back in March, another group in the U.S. embarked on similar work.
How might knowing that Alzheimer's is coming one month earlier than usual be a help?
I feel portrayal of #Alzheimers in media encourages the anticipation of what will be lost, rather then the cherishing of what is still here.
— Alex Andreou (@sturdyAlex) July 8, 2014
For starters, that gives the family and patient more time to make decisions and plan for the care of the patient. There are also estate and other decisions that a person might be inclined to make if they catch their disease in an earlier stage.
There is always the hope that some kind of cure will be found, some breakthrough that will bring sufferers of this disease back to their families. But, in the meantime, early detection is a great aid.
Image via Wikimedia Commons