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Health Tips Tuesday: plasma screening and Alzheimer’s diagnosis

A Mayo Clinic study has identified a new potential way to improve the accuracy of diagnosing alzheimer's disease.
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 1:39 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - A Mayo Clinic study has identified a new potential way to improve the accuracy of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Minerva Carrasquillo, the senior author of the study, joined us to discuss the findings and how they may also help identify new targets for therapy.

What did this study find? How will it impact patients and improve the accuracy for diagnosis?

Carrasquillo: “We found a new set of molecules in plasma that may help us determine who has Alzheimer’s disease and these molecules are different than those being used by doctors currently to diagnos the disease. These molecules tell us what are the molecular changes in the body that may be contributing to the development of the disease.”

The study focused on African Americans. Why did you choose this demographic?

Carrasquillo: “Our study focused on African Americans because it is known that African Americans are at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. It is important that all demographics are included in these studies in order to determine what are the factors contributing in group of patients to another. Those factors can be identified eventually and then we can find what are the best therapies for everyone.”

How will the plasma biomarkers increase access to more accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease?

Carrasquillo: “These biomarkers are present in the people with the disease or maybe they have them and they are unaffected and because Alzheimer’s disease is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are present in other types of dimentia. Often times, doctors will need to rely on biomarkers to determine the diagnosis. There are two types of biomarkers that are currently used by doctors. Both have very good accuracy up to 98 percent. These biomarkers show imaging of the brain or a spinal fluid sample and not all clinics have access to instruments or the expertise to obtain insutrments to see fluid samples or brain imaging, so having biomarkers would increase access to diagnosising the disease.”

How can you prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

Carrasquillo: “We know a good diet like the Mediterranean diet and exercise can help. We know being socially active can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, but if a perosn has a high chance of getting the disease from genetics or environmental factors. We know at this moment there is no way of curing it. That’s why we are working hard to find new therapies that are effective.”