In the US, the sale of the first test for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has been authorized: what is known about the disease and at what stage are the treatments
By: VirgilioNotizie | Posted on:
Today in Italy there are about 1.2 million people affected by dementia. Of these, about 60%, that is 720 thousand, is affected by Alzheimer’s. According to experts, however, these numbers are destined to grow so much that in 2040 it is estimated that the sick could be 2.5 million, also due to the aging of the population. While research into the causes and treatments continues, news has recently come from the United States of the marketing authorization of the first in vitro diagnostic test for the early detection of the presence of amyloid plaques on the brain, which are associated with the disease.
There Food and Drug Administration in fact, the US has authorized the marketing of Lumipulse G β-Amiloid Ratio (1-42 / 1-40)which is the first test for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, intended for adult patients, especially over 55, who have cognitive impairment compatible with the disease.
According to experts it is a step forward in research, which could be very helpful in intervening quickly and slowing the progression of dementia. You spoke of all this, a Virgil News, Antonio Guaitageriatrician and Director of the Research Center of the Golgi Cenci Foundation in Abbiategrasso.
How the new diagnostic test works and why it matters
“In reality, a premise must be made: it is certainly not a self-diagnostic test, because it is performed through a lumbar puncture that serves to extract the CSF (ie the human cerebrospinal fluid, Ed) ”Explains Antonio Guaita, geriatrician and Director of the Research Center of the Golgi Cenci Foundation in Abbiategrasso, in the province of Milan. The Lumipulse test measures the relationship between the concentrations of β-amyloid 1-42 and β-amyloid 1-40 (plaque-forming proteins) found in human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). “This is a value that must always be interpreted in the light of the clinical picture and other molecules such as tau and important cognitive symptoms – explains the expert, also author of the book “Living with… Alzheimer’s” (available on Amazon).
What is Alzheimer’s and what are the symptoms
“It is a degenerative disease of the brain, which causes altered cell functions and their death. It is the leading cause of dementia: leads to a reduction in cognitive abilities (memory, orientation, abstract thinking, planning and execution skills, etc.), in such dimensions as to reduce autonomy in daily life and not due to causes that alter consciousness (such as high fever, coma , alcoholic intoxication etc.). So the symptoms are those indicated by the definition of dementia. They are also progressive because they get worse over time ”explains the expert.
How Alzheimer’s is treated today: what are the options for therapy
“There are symptomatic drugs (anticholinesterases, Memantine) which delay a little the loss of cognitive functions. But, while certainly useful, they are of limited effectiveness in size and time. A non-pharmacological approach is important. Lifestyles that reduce the risk of contracting the disease, such as physical and mental activity, wealth of social relationships, diet rich in fruit and vegetables, stay in a good mood. Then, in the very initial stages of dementia, cognitive stimulation is important, with real training sessions conducted by trained personnel. In the advanced stages, however, behavioral symptoms must be addressed: disturbed sleep, mood, hyperactivity or apathy, wandering, irritability. Also on these drugs are helpful, but rarely resolutive. It is always necessary to consider these disorders in the context in which they occur, also to consider them the expression of a possible discomfort of the patient that at times it is possible to remove ”, explains Guaita. In addition, a few months ago Roberto Burioni also talked about drugs to treat Alzheimer’s.
How important are nutrition and some foods in particular
“There is substantial data showing that the so-called ‘Mediterranean diet’ reduces the risk of getting dementia. On the other hand, studies on the administration of single “chemical” components characteristic of this diet, such as resveratrol or certain vitamins, have not proved effective. There are no studies showing that these same factors slow down the clinical course of Alzheimer’s disease already established with the symptoms of dementia “explains the geriatrician.
What are the new frontiers of research in the fight against Alzheimer’s
“There are two main ways: the first consists in identifying early biological markers of the disease. Practically, a blood test that indicates that the person is at high risk or is ill. The second way, on the other hand, consists in functional “in vivo” tests such as PET Amyloid and more recently PT TAU which tell if these potentially harmful proteins or damage expression are accumulating in the brain (and where). Finally, let’s not forget that there are growing doubts that beta amyloid is the main agent of neuronal damage and dementia, while other components such as mitochondria and brain immune cells such as microglie and partly l ‘astroglia ”, continues the expert.
What is the impact of the disease in Italy and how much does general aging weigh
“The increase in cases impressively reflects the aging of the population. Lincidence doubles every 5 years of age. In my opinion, therefore, the numerical increase is all explained by the growth of the elderly population reaching more advanced ages. In fact, the percentage incidence (i.e. the number of patients per 100 individuals of that age) has remained the same or even slightly decreased – concludes Guaita – For this reason it is very important to study how aging can modify the cellular environment and biochemist of the brain, identifying the changes that make it more likely to have Alzheimer’s disease ”.