Accelerated diagnosis of dementia on the cards
Research shows that only 68% of dementia patients are given the correct diagnosis. The Antwerp University AU and biotechnical company Adx NeuroSciences managed to hit the mark with 9 in 10 patients suffering memory loss with their dementia diagnosis. “Alzheimer’s disease is normally only diagnosed when the damage to the brain is irreversible,” says Sebastiaan Engelborghs, a professor at AU. “First the patients lose their short-term memory and then they start losing their daily routine functions. It’s crucial to detect the disease at an early stage so that medical treatment and memory training can start immediately.” Some particular proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid in people with Alzheimer’s have changed. “We call it biomarkers and we can check it with an epidural,” explains Engelborghs. “Earlier difficulties were caused by the fact that different laboratories checked different criteria. We have refined the diagnostic criteria.” Biomarkers can even be detected twenty years before the first symptoms can be seen. “We have already had success with the detection of the disease among patients suffering memory loss,” he says. “In future we would also like to gain success long before the patient contracts the disease. We now hope to develop more biomarkers to help us detect other forms of dementia as well.” Both UA and Adx NeuroSciences are involved in a leading European consortium working on a biomarkers' project that has arrived in the final research phase.