Alzheimer's Drug Early Signs Could Lead to Early Detection

Scientists may have an earlier way of detecting Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study presented at the American Academy of Neurology.

A drug used to highlight a protein called beta amyloid in the brain may offer advanced help in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. Scientists compare beta amyloid to plaque build-up, which can affect memory and thought processes.

"Finding ways to increase the number of early and accurate diagnoses is essential if we are to ensure people have access to vital treatments, support and information," Dr. Anne Corbett of the Alzheimer's Society told the Daily Mail.

"Yet at the moment only 43 percent of people with the condition ever get a diagnosis, meaning hundreds of thousands of people are left struggling alone in the dark," she added.

Right now Alzheimer's disease can only be confirmed through autopsy once a patient is dead. Time is of the essence when dealing with Alzheimer's, so the earlier it is diagnosed, the more effective treatment can be.

"This drug research looks positive but was carried out in people with later stage Alzheimer's. We will need to see if it can be converted into a useable and cost effective diagnostic tool to detect very early signs," Corbett stated.

Amyvid, the drug used, was injected into the brains of more than 200 patients with and without dementia. PET and MRI scans were conducted to test levels of beta amyloid, giving a reading of the severity of Alzheimer's. According to Daily Mail, Amyvid was able to accurately identify 77 percent of positive Alzheimer's diagnoses and 94 percent of negative diagnoses.

"It is likely to play an important role in learning both how to diagnose and treat the disease, but it's still an open question at this point for asymptomatic people," Denise Park told the Wall Street Journal.

Amyvid is expected to be available in June of 2012.