Here’s a diagnostically important finding – a method for detecting initial signs of Alzheimer’s via amyloid PET imaging is just as effective as the previously used method involving cerebrospinal fluid samples. This conclusion was given after a detailed and extensive study in the field of diagnostics by researchers at the Lund University.
Debate Between The Two Methods To Identify Alzheimer’s
The most widely used diagnostic method for detecting early signs of Alzheimer’s, especially in the Swedish healthcare system, are a variety of cognitive memory assessments, along with computed tomography. For many years now, analyzing a sample of cerebrospinal fluid also enhances the chances of an early diagnosis. However, only patients enrolled in memory clinics have been accessible to this test.
Of late, Sweden has approved a new method called amyloid PET for clinical use. This is how the test works – a special substance is given to the patient that binds with β-amyloid markers (proteins found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients). Results are then mapped with PET imaging.
Scientists have been debating whether PET imaging or cerebrospinal fluid sampling is best for clinically detecting Alzheimer’s in its early stages. This study decided to put an end to such discussions and decided the efficacy of both diagnostic tests.
Finding The Answer
Sebastian Palmqvist, MD, PhD, at Lund University explained that researchers compared both the tests and discovered that both diagnostic tools identified approximately 90 percent of patients who were at a risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The findings conclusively state that PET imaging and cerebrospinal fluid sampling work equally well, and patients can opt for either after considering factors such as cost, preference, availability or expertise.
Moreover, both the methods also efficiently identified healthy individuals who were unlikely to develop the disease within the next decade. When such an inference is made without reference from either test, its accuracy decreases by about 60 to 70 percent. This fact further highlights the importance of these methods as reference tools for clinicians.
Significance Of Having New Effective Tests To Identify Alzheimer’s
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease in its later stages is a major problem for healthcare and for future treatment regimes.
“Drug trials conducted previously for evaluating new treatments for Alzheimer’s cases have failed, partially since the treatment began too late and the disease had considerably progressed by then”, stated Oskar Hansson, Associate Professor and Neurologist at Lund University. “With these two accurate tools diagnostic tools, we can identify suitable participants at an earlier stage of the disease. This will significantly enhance the chances of being able to establish a positive effect for newly developed drugs.”