London: Scientists have devised a new test which they claim could help identify people who are at risk of developing Alzheimer`s disease later in life, by detecting changes in their brains.
Alzheimer`s is an incurable condition and experts believe the key to tackling it, and even stopping it completely, lies in early detection.
Now, an international team says that its new test could soon pave the way to early diagnosis of the most common form of dementia years before the devastating symptoms appear, the `Daily Express` reported.
Potential sufferers could be spotted and treated early, delaying the onset of the illness by years and allowing what few remedies are available to minimise its effects, according to the scientists.
Dr Marwan Sabbagh, who led the team, said: "This is an easy, non-invasive way to assist an Alzheimer`s diagnosis at an early stage."
In fact, the new test uses a drug to highlight toxins in the brain. In their research, the scientists used florbetaben drug as a tracer during a PET scan of the brain to show-up the toxic amyloid plaques.
These destructive fibres clump together and nerves are killed off, leading to symptoms of memory loss and confusion typical of Alzheimer`s.
For the study, almost 200 participants nearing death -- which included both people with suspected Alzheimer`s disease and those without known dementia, and who were willing to donate their brain -- underwent MRI and florbetaben PET scans.
Some 60 healthy volunteers also underwent the brain scan. The scientists found that florbetaben was able to detect the plaques both in living and dead patients.
Dr Sabbagh, the Director of Banner Sun Health Research Institute in Sun City, Arizona, said: "These results confirm that florbetaben is able to detect beta-amyloid plaques in the brain during life with great accuracy."
He added: "Also exciting is the possibility of using florbetaben as a tool in future therapeutic clinical research studies where therapy goals focus on reducing levels of beta- amyloid in the brain."