New Methods for Early Alzheimer’s Detection


Artificially-colored MRI scan of the human brain. | Image by Daisy Daisy, Shutterstock

Alzheimer’s is a debilitating disease that steals the memory and cognitive function of older adults in the community. In Texas alone, over 400,000 people over 65 are impacted by this disease. For years, Alzheimer’s disease has baffled researchers who struggle to find effective treatments and early detection methods. However, recent medical findings provide hope for families with elders who have the disease.

The study, conducted by a team of scientists from Hokkaido University, was published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy. The team of Japanese scientists developed sensors that can detect Aβ-binding (Amyloid beta) exosomes in the bloodstream. Aβ forms plaque in the brain, which causes the loss of both neurons and synapses.

Once Aβ forms plaque in the brain, it cannot be stopped or reversed. As a result, those with Alzheimer’s face a life of permanent loss of cognition, and many family members are thrust into the role of caregiver.

Until now, it has been impossible to detect until the onset of cognitive depreciation, which has prevented early treatment. Alzheimer’s is difficult to diagnose because it requires an autopsy of the brain. Therefore, an accurate diagnosis only occurs postmortem.

If the study is correct, it opens the door to early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and promises a path toward early treatment.

Moreover, another promising Alzheimer’s treatment is currently being developed by Biogen and targets beta-amyloid plaques. However, testing has shown the drug to be most effective for those with early Alzheimer’s. As a result, early detection remains an important puzzle piece in fighting the neurodegenerative disease.

For now, studies only show positive detection results for mice. However, human clinical trials are currently underway. Early detection combined with effective treatment gives hope to the 1,079,000 family and friends caring for their loved ones with dementia, many of whom live within the DFW area.

The Dallas & Northeast Texas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association currently provides outreach, education, and support to struggling caregivers throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth Area. Caregiving for loved ones can be lonely, and support groups provide a community of other caregivers to offer guidance and encourage hope.

On November 5, the Alzheimer’s Association will host a Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Dallas City Hall Plaza to fundraise and support future studies that detect, treat, and find a cure for Alzheimer’s. 

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