Today, there is no single test used to diagnose Alzheimer's Disease but that may be changing soon. A new study is being touted ahead of its release at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) in April. This study indicates that a new skin test for Alzheimer's Disease is showing a good deal of promise. The study indicates that skin biopsies can be used to detect elevated levels of (abnormal) proteins found in people with Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and 5.4 million Americans are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s disease affects one million Americans, with at least 60,000 new cases reported annually each year. – AAN.com
The American Academy of Neurology reports: “Until now, pathological confirmation was not possible without a brain biopsy, so these diseases often go unrecognized until after the disease has progressed,” said study author Ildefonso Rodriguez-Leyva, MD, at Central Hospital at the University of San Luis Potosi in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. “We hypothesized that since skin has the same origin as brain tissue while in the embryo that they might also show the same abnormal proteins. This new test offers a potential biomarker that may allow doctors to identify and diagnose these diseases earlier on.”
The results were very encouraging. A comparison of healthy patients (and those with dementia caused by other conditions), to patients with both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s showed that the latter group had seven times higher levels of the tau protein. People with Parkinson’s also had an eight times higher level of alpha-synuclein protein than the healthy control group. Researchers noted that their results need further study.
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. – Alzheimer's Association
For people with a family history of Alzheimer's or Parkinson's Disease, this is welcome news indeed. A definitive diagnosis by way of a skin test is far more reasonable than methods used today. These new study results could open the door up to completely new dimensions of understanding, and a path that one day leads to a cure for these debilitating conditions.