New research explores emerging biomarkers for diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases

In their findings, researchers comprehensively examined the accuracy and efficacy of biomarkers for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's, after reviewing three separate tests.

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Over at the University of Minnesota, their new review study released online in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine explored emerging biomarkers used to diagnose neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.

In their findings, researchers comprehensively examined the accuracy and efficacy of biomarkers for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, after reviewing three separate tests.

In the first test, they examined amyloid positron emission tomography scans, mapping the accumulation of amyloid protein in the brain. A build-up of amyloid in the brain is theorized to be a hallmark indicator of dementia. Based on the findings, diagnosis rates of Alzheimer’s were close to fully accurate when using such scans.

During the second test, magnetic resonance imaging scans of a number of participants were initiated to identify any size changes in the temporal lobe. Patients with Alzheimer’s generally have a reduced volume of the hippocampus. These imaging exams led to an accuracy near 90% for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

Other tests, including one using single-photon emission computed tomography was regarded to be moderately accurate at establishing a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and not as efficacious as the first tests.

Moreover, two other reviews on Alzheimer’s were conducted by researchers. The first measured the accuracy of cognitive tests in discerning between neurodegenerative diseases and mild cognitive impairment. The assessment of researchers led to low accuracy for distinguishing between the two conditions.

In a third review, drug interventions for neurodegenerative diseases were probed for efficacy, including the use of cholinesterase inhibitors. Although the intervention resulted in minor cognitive improvements, compared to placebo, there was insufficient evidence to fully determine the efficacy of the drug treatment.

All in all, the reviews initiated by the research team inferred strong evidence of the efficacy of emerging biomarkers for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

© Image courtesy of clevelandclinic.org

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