Thursday, August 12, 2010

Alzheimer's news

I'm sure many of you have heard about the new article out about using spinal fluid to use as an indicator in diagnosing Alzheimer's. If not, here is a link to the Alzheimer's Assn. page that gives their take on it.

This was an interesting article to me, because eight years ago when I was going through my diagnosis, I actually had this procedure done and these exact things were looked at. My results showed that I had levels of tau and beta amyloid protein that were "consistent with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's". A genetic test was also done at the same time and it came back that "this individual possesses an ApoE genotype that indicates with high specificity that Alzheimer's disease is the cause of or a contributor to the observed dementia. We know that just because one carries this particular gene doesn't mean that you will develop Alzheimer's. Also, the absence of this gene does not rule out the diagnosis either.

We will be hearing much more about this study I'm sure. I think my neurologist had these tests done on me because I was so young at the time of diagnosis and this was one more tool she could use. Although during my whole diagnosis the words "Alzheimer's Disease" rarely came up in conversation with the doctor, it was looming in the back of my head the whole time. And, although I was bracing myself for this diagnosis, to see the lab results come back with the actual words Alzheimer's, caught me off guard. I was actually seeing some data that said it might be likely. When I received the results of my neuro-psychological exam it said the same thing, I was still a little rattled. But all of that is behind me now and we move on.

I just thought that these tests were the norm. But, I do recall talking to others with younger onset Alzheimer's and asking them if they had a spinal tap most of them said no. I guess we will see what happens with this new information.

If we can just work as hard now to find a cure.

Thanks to those that have made a donation to the Memory Walk in my behalf. It's not too late to do so, you can follow this link

1 comment:

Dr Ken Romeo said...

This was an inspiring article by the New York Times, but the public should keep in mind that the discovery of biomarkers and the development of pharmaceutical drugs capable of being called a "cure or treatment for Alzheimer's disease" are two entirely different things.
As for what we have to work with today in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease as physicians, which is dismal at best, this article at least gives us a glimmer of hope that progress in the treatment and cure of this horrible disease will progress more rapidly.
I am a 52 year old physician who chooses to practice "care giving" for Alzheimer's patients and not clinic or research. My mother died of complications from Alzheimer's disease so I am well aware of the fact that my risk is double that of the general population.
The truth really is that unless someone in the pharmaceutical industry or academia makes a "mistake" in their research that rivals Flemming and really starts to push the ball forward, I will be long dead and buried before a "cure" or real "treatment" for Alzheimer's disease is available.