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posted by hubie on Friday January 06, @10:21AM   Printer-friendly

Scientists Develop Blood Test That Detects Alzheimer's Years Before Onset:

Alzheimer's is a form of progressive dementia that impacts nearly one in every 10 seniors. Given its pervasiveness and its heartbreaking nature, scientists are working harder than ever to understand the disease—especially when it comes to causes and prevention. A new study out of Washington adds to this research by offering an early detection method and solidifying a potential Alzheimer's trigger.

Bioengineers and neuroscientists at the University of Washington have developed a test called SOBA, which looks for clumps of amyloid β-protein (Aβ). Each of these clumps constitutes an oligomer, or a molecule made up of repeating units that has long been believed to be associated with the onset of Alzheimer's. Under what's called the amyloid cascade hypothesis, scientists consider Aβ plaques to be responsible for triggering Alzheimer's pathology, including the neurofibrillary tangles and inflammation associated with the disease.

[...] The team's study comes just months after a shocking report claiming that the amyloid cascade hypothesis was the result of widespread research fraud. With an investigation into the alleged fraud still underway, some scientists are concerned that this could mean the end of the hypothesis as a whole. But the team at the University of Washington appears to believe the hypothesis holds strong, and the results of their study—published last month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences—suggests the same.

Journal Reference:
Dylan Shea, Elizabeth Colasurdo, Alec Smith, et al., SOBA: Development and testing of a soluble oligomer binding assay for detection of amyloidogenic toxic oligomers, PNAS, 119, 2022.

Original Submission

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Why Using Real Maps Instead of GPS Could Prevent Dementia 23 comments

Turning off Waze or your favorite GPS app and using an old-fashioned map may be the best way to fight Alzheimer's disease, a new study reveals:

Researchers at McMaster University say orienteering, an outdoor sport that exercises the mind and body through navigation puzzles, can train the brain and stave off cognitive decline. The aim of orienteering is to navigate between checkpoints or controls marked on a special map. In competitive orienteering, the challenge is to complete the course in the quickest time.

For older adults, scientists say the sport — which sharpens navigational skills and memory — could become a useful intervention measure to fight off the slow decline related to dementia onset. They believe the physical and cognitive demands of orienteering can stimulate parts of the brain our ancient ancestors used for hunting and gathering.

The human brain evolved thousands of years ago to adapt to harsh environments by creating new neural pathways, the McMaster team explains. Those same brain functions are not always necessary today, however, thanks to GPS apps and food being readily available.

Unfortunately, the team says these skills fall into a "use it or lose it" situation.

[...] People who participated in orienteering displayed better spatial navigation and memory skills, suggesting that adding elements of wayfinding into their daily routines benefited them over their lifetime.

Journal Reference:
Emma E. Waddington, Jennifer J. Heisz. Orienteering experts report more proficient spatial processing and memory across adulthood, PLOS ONE (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0280435)


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by datapharmer on Friday January 06, @03:12PM (2 children)

    by datapharmer (2702) on Friday January 06, @03:12PM (#1285471)

    I forgot what I originally came here to post...

    In all seriousness it is a truly terrible disease and anything that can be done to delay or prevent it is great news.

    • (Score: 2) by mr_bad_influence on Friday January 06, @06:31PM (1 child)

      by mr_bad_influence (3854) on Friday January 06, @06:31PM (#1285521)

      Agreed. I'm not sure how I would handle an affirmative diagnosis or even want to know. It would certainly throw a lot of turmoil and fear into my life. If it was possible to know the date of my death I wouldn't want to know that either.

      • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Friday January 06, @10:25PM

        by RS3 (6367) on Friday January 06, @10:25PM (#1285577)

        If it was possible to know the date of my death I wouldn't want to know that either.

        I find it interesting that many people, like you, wouldn't want to know. I would definitely want to know. For me, I guess, it's about all the things I've wanted and hoped to do. If my time is short, I'll change my plans and priorities regarding what I pursue and invest time and effort into.

        Experience enables you to recognize a mistake every time you repeat it.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by sjames on Friday January 06, @07:11PM

    by sjames (2882) on Friday January 06, @07:11PM (#1285533) Journal

    It is possible that the original study that created the amyloid hypothesis was fraudulant and wrong AND for this test to be accurate. Some have theorized that the Alzheimer's symptoms and tyhe amyloid plaques are caused by a common condition. That would make the clumps detected in this test disease markers rather than being causative, but the test would still be useful.

  • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Saturday January 07, @02:57PM

    by mcgrew (701) <> on Saturday January 07, @02:57PM (#1285686) Homepage Journal

    They said on the news this morning that its yearly cost of a new drug that slows it is more than the median income. It must be nice to be able to afford health care.

    Older than dirt? Kid, I was a BETA TESTER for dirt! We never did get all the bugs out.