May 26, 2019 | Updated: 10:32 PM EDT

Early Detection of Alzheimer's Prior to Onset of Symptoms Now Possible

Apr 18, 2019 09:17 PM EDT

Oxford Brain Diagnostics
(Photo : Oxford Brain Diagnostics )

Future Healthcare is an annual event that takes place in London in the United Kingdom.  It is a showcase of international innovation in the healthcare space and one of the highlights of the said event was the presentation on the early detection of dementia.

Today, Alzheimer's disease  - the most common form of dementia - is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. As the population's average age slowly rises, the number of deaths due to dementia are likely to rise in line.  Statistics shows one person developing dementia every three minutes.  With no cure in sight, the significance of early diagnosis becomes apparent. 

As mentioned, although there are currently no specific treatments to block the progression of dementia, there are important reasons from an individual's social and personal perspective that an early diagnosis is important. Early dementia screening should be completed as soon as possible once an individual or a knowledgeable informant has noticed decline in memory or difficulty in performing day-to-day tasks such as paying bills, shopping or managing medications as this enables opportunities for counselling for future care and a chance to arrange financial and legal matters while decision-making capacity remains.

Catching dementia early remains challenging.  To date, early diagnosis has always been when symptoms are already felt by the individual.   

In a recent development, Oxford Brain Diagnostics believe that their technology can catch the condition years before symptoms become apparent.  Oxford Brain Diagnostics (OBD) is the result of an 8-year collaboration between Professor Steven Chance (neuroscience and pathology) and Professor Mark Jenkinson (brain imaging).  They have developed a new method that directly measures the cellular health of patients' brain circuits from standard MRI data.  The recently patented Cortical Disarray Measurement (CDM) technology in short this enables scientists to gather an "extra level of detail" from existing MRI scans.  The result is a unique microanatomical assessment which can predict which people with mild memory complaints will develop dementia within the next few years

Dr. Steven Chance - OCD's CEO - states that, "The method reveals the damage to the cerebral cortex even in the early stages of disease because it is sensitive to disruption at the cellular scale."

This new technology is a game changer for pharmaceutical trials.  OBD aims to transform the drug discovery process, enabling faster, cheaper and more accurate testing enabling Researchers to better quantify how experimental drugs affect the microstructure of the brain.

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