A new dementia test asks more questions than answers


Our understanding of the mechanism of this disease is also changing, making early diagnosis more valuable. Dementia has a long preclinical stage—up to 20 years in some cases—during this period, scans and blood tests can detect subtle changes, but no symptoms have appeared.

During this window period, two proteins begin to appear in the brains of dementia patients: tau and amyloid. For years, researchers have been trying to figure out what role they play, but now some people think they have the answer. In patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid forms tangles and plaques in the spaces between brain cells.this theory Once it accumulates to a certain level, it triggers the tau protein-usually part of the neuron scaffold-to change from a normal state to a toxic state. This is the cause of most symptoms, by killing cells and interfering with the ability of neurons to send clear signals.

June 2021, FDA grants accelerated approval To aducanumab, this is the first new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease in 18 years. It is designed to adhere to amyloid molecules and make it easier for the immune system to clear them. But this is a controversial method, because the past drug treatments aimed at clearing amyloid have not had much impact.

However, in the emerging theory of dementia, the timing of intervention may be crucial. With better early detection, drugs like aducanumab can be given when there is still time to work. “If you remove amyloid at a very early stage, maybe this is when the real benefits happen,” Koychev said. If amyloid can be cleared from the brain before tau toxicity is triggered, the worst effects may be delayed or avoided altogether.

The easy-to-use digital tests can be combined with brain scans and blood tests to help researchers construct a picture of the exact relationship between amyloid and tau protein and cognitive impairment, and whether removing them will have an impact. Koychev recommends regular assessments of the most at-risk populations, rather than a comprehensive screening of everyone.

However, he pointed out that there are still many disagreements in this area, and there are Seriously suspect Whether this new drug for Alzheimer’s disease will work as expected. But after what Habibi called a “long-term drought”, which lags behind the field of cancer in terms of investment and interest by pharmaceutical companies, it has reinvigorated research. Dening believes that this is caused by a variety of factors-the stigma of the disease, the age of the people who are usually infected, and the fatalist attitude of “well, this is what happens when you are old.”

As the large and affluent population enters the most risky age group, the situation has finally changed. Tests like ICA are aimed at them, but Koychev hopes that they will also “democratize the chance of getting brain health.”

Because they are digital and only semi-supervised, you can take them wherever you can bring your iPad. This means that they can reach people who are excluded from traditional research. These people are usually composed of volunteer groups that do not accurately reflect the potential population. They can also be taken more frequently to build a picture of personal cognitive performance over time-Cognetivity has a separate iPhone app called OptiMind, designed for home testing to do just that.

We may still lack good treatments for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but the ability to detect them earlier may change our attitude towards them, which in itself may improve our understanding and inspire us to the required solutions investment. “Brain health will become something people monitor and take care of, just like you take care of your own physical health,” Koychev said.


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