National Enquirer

RAPID ALZHEIMER’S DETECTOR! Screening tool catches disease in early stages


ABREAKTHRO­UGH brain scan can detect early-stage Alzheimer’s disease with almost

100 percent accuracy — and the experts behind the screening tool hope it will see widespread use by 2025! “Currently, no other simple and widely available methods can detect Alzheimer’s with this level of accuracy,” says Professor Eric Aboagye, who led the groundbrea­king research at Imperial College London. “Our new approach could identify early-stage patients for clinical trials of new drug treatments or lifestyle changes, which is currently very hard to do.”

Over 6 million Americans are battling the mindrobbin­g disease, but that number is expected to more than double by 2050! Doctors currently identify the condition through memory and cognitive exams and brain scans to check for protein deposits and shrinkage of the hippocampu­s, which is linked to memory. But these can take several weeks to arrange and process. Patients with suspected dementia can be monitored for months — or even years — before being officially diagnosed. However, the London team developed a computer program using standard MRI technology to produce results in under 12 hours!

Adapting an algorithm used to classify cancer tumors, the researcher­s divided the brain into 115 regions and allocated 660 different features, such as size, shape and texture, to assess each area. They then trained the algorithm to identify where changes to these features could predict Alzheimer’s. The scientists tested their approach on brain scans and data from almost 500 patients with early- or late-stage disease, those with other neurologic­al conditions and healthy individual­s.

In a whopping 98 percent of cases, the MRI-based machine learning system alone accurately showed whether the patient had Alzheimer’s or not! Meanwhile, a spinal tap to examine brain fluid for proteins linked to the disease is just 62 percent accurate. The researcher­s found surprising changes in brain regions never previously associated with Alzheimer’s, including those linked to physical activity, sight and hearing.

Experts say early diagnosis allows patients to receive prompt treatment to manage their symptoms and plan for the future. The test may also help researcher­s determine what causes the disease and lead to new therapies.

“This is an important step forward,” says Aboagye.

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