One of the most devastating illnesses from which a person can suffer is Alzheimer’s disease. Not only is it tragic for the victims who suffer from the mental deterioration associated with the illness, it is also very difficult for the loved ones of Alzheimer’s patients try to cope with the symptoms of the disease like memory loss.
Alzheimer’s disease is often considered to be a particularly traumatic condition. In fact, the Social Security Administration includes early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in its compassionate allowances program, which is a program we discussed in this blog post. Unfortunately, there is no cure, but a recent study has sparked some cautious hope in the medical community as researchers believe that it could lead to dramatic improvements in how we diagnose and treat people with Alzheimer’s.
Researchers evidently collected saliva samples from 82 people who had varying degrees of cognitive abilities. After examining thousands of molecules in the samples, the researchers found that they were able to identify biomarkers in the saliva of people who were at risk of suffering from a cognitive impairment. These biomarkers could make early detection much easier.
This research study was small and has yet to be published and reviewed by the authors’ peers, but the results are giving people hope that once the process can be replicated and validated, the future of treating Alzheimer’s will be dramatically different.
Early detection is crucial when it comes to this disease. If doctors can easily collect a saliva sample from at-risk patients and get them tested earlier, treatment can be more effective and may extend a patient’s cognitively-healthy years.
Sadly, the current prognosis for people with Alzheimer’s is less promising. People with this disease — and more specifically, those with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease — struggle with worsening dementia and can experience rapid rates of mental, emotional and physical decline.
The fact that research continues to make progress when it comes to understanding and identifying Alzheimer’s disease risk factors earlier may be of some comfort to anyone concerned about Alzheimer’s disease. However, until more is known, victims and their families must continue to rely on and take advantage of the current treatments available.
Source: CNN, “New saliva test may catch Alzheimer’s disease early,” Liza Lucas, July 20, 2015