Early warning signs of Alzhemier’s could be spotted up to 20 years before onset of the disease


August 1, 2011

Researchers from the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer's Network (DIAN) recently conducted a study that may have unveiled possible biomarkers of inherited Alzheimer's disease, which could spot the illness as much as 20 years before it begins to take hold. The scientists found that there may be signs that warn of dementia in the spinal fluid years before any other signs of the disease are noticeable.

"New treatments may have risks, so to treat patients prior to symptoms we must be sure that we have a firm grasp on who will develop Alzheimer's dementia," said John C. Morris, the director of DIAN. "If we can find a way to delay or prevent dementia symptoms in DIAN participants, that would be a tremendous success story and very helpful in our efforts to treat the much more common sporadic form of the illness."

Dementia slowly wears away the brain's ability to function and poor cognitive reasoning is one of the first visible symptoms. Loss of cognitive functions can affect an individual's capacity to understand spatial relationships. This can increase the risk of falling, so older adults who may suffer from dementia or symptoms of the disease can purchase a personal emergency response system to keep them safe in case of an accident or injury.