Push for early detection tests to reach hospitals


the alzheimer’s affects about 800,000 Spaniards, according to the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN). In Catalonia there are some 90,000 patients. Every year, some 40,000 new patients are diagnosed in Spain, according to the SEN, but even so between 30% and 40% of the total number of cases are undiagnosed because the boundaries between this disease and other dementias are not always clear.

However, in recent years, research has made a “huge leap” in the early detection of the disease, according to the director of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation, Arcadia Navarro. And, more specifically in recent months, there has been Technical advances which make it possible to detect Alzheimer’s disease with a “simple” test. According to this entity, in 2050 the number of Alzheimer’s cases could triple in the world due to the aging of the population.

Hope is also lecanemabthe drug that the Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai and the American biogenic have been studied and shown to be effective in reducing symptoms.

A study conducted by the Pasqual Maragall Foundation, the Medical Research Institute Hospital del Mar (IMIM) and the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) identified in August two new blood biomarkers that better capture the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. It is blood biomarkers p-tau 217 and p-tau231suitable for indicating brain changes related to amyloid protein in people who are not yet showing cognitive symptoms, so that it can be detected early if someone who is already middle-aged has a high risk to develop the disease.

“Before, this protein could only be detected by very expensive technology. And, instead, there are now technical advances that can detect the disease with a simple blood test. This technique has not yet reached clinical practice, at the moment it is practiced only in scientific studies, but This early detection is extremely important,” Navarro points out. Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of neurodegenerative dementia worldwide.

Moreover, Navarro points out that it is a “silent disease” that before showing “clinical symptoms”, it is already beginning to generate “neural damage”, something that can happen “about 15 or 20 years” before manifesting. The Pasqual Maragall Foundation, says Navarro, is calling for these new blood testing techniques to become part of clinical practice as soon as possible.

The SEN believes that 80% of mild Alzheimer’s cases remain undiagnosed and this prevents the early initiation of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments that slow cognitive deterioration and control behavioral disorders.

Now the “therapeutic” window has opened because doctors can detect people at risk to develop the disease “much earlier”. “It’s very important because there is no drug treatment against alzheimer [una vez ha sido diagnosticado]”, Add.

Some drugs, such as monoclonal antibodies, are tested in people with very mild symptoms. According to Navarro, there is “hope for the future” because there are currently more than 100 molecules with therapeutic potential for Alzheimer’s disease.

lifestyle intervention

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But, in addition, another of the great discoveries of recent years in the field of Alzheimer’s disease is the demonstration of how Lifestyle “interventions” can delay disease. “We calculate that by intervening in the lifestyles, we could even avoid 40% of diagnoses”, Navarro points out. He gives the example of the Nordic countries, which created cardiovascular health programs years ago and are now seeing how these “result” in a better “brain health” of its population.

Alzheimer’s is an incurable disease, but there are “clear demonstrations”, according to the director of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation, that the management of a series of modifiable factors (as the diet, the tobacco use, that of alcohol) it is possible to improve not only cardiovascular health, but also cerebral. “It’s something that was suspected, but has been proven relatively recently,” Navarro says.

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