Yale Alzheimer’s Test Directly Measures Synaptic Loss

By Zoe Papadakis – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

Yale researchers have developed a test that can directly measure synaptic loss in people with Alzheimer’s disease, EurekaAlert! posted, and it’s being called “a groundbreaking effort.”

By using PET imaging technology to scan for a specific protein in the brain that is linked to the synapses, scientists may have just paved the way for new and ground-breaking treatments for the disease, Yale University announced.

Image: Yale Alzheimer's Test Directly Measures Synaptic Loss

In the nervous system, a synapse is a small gap found where nerve cells connect, and it passes signals from one neuron to the next, according to health and wellness portal Verywell.

In Alzheimer’s, it’s speculated that an abnormal build up in proteins can cause tangles in the brain that trigger inflammation and lead to the loss of synapses, The Scientific American said.

A collaborative study between researchers at the Yale PET Center and the Yale Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit (ADRU), published in JAMA Neurology, has now documented new ways of measuring memory loss in living patients.

By injecting a specific radioactive chemical that binds with a protein present in nearly all synapses, and then running scans with high-resolution PET technology, the team of researchers were able to visualize synaptic “density” in different regions of the brain.

The study’s authors pointed out that a decrease in synapses was linked to cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease patients.

“A critical barrier in Alzheimer’s research has been the inability to measure synaptic density in living individuals,” said ADRU director Christopher Van Dyck.

In the U.S., Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death, with fatalities rising to 123 percent between 2000 and 2015, The Alzheimer’s Association noted.

An estimated 5.7 million Americans are living with the disease and that number is expected to rise to 14 million by 2050.

In light of these statistics, Van Dyck said the Yale researchers’ findings were “a groundbreaking effort” that provided medical experts in the field with such capabilities.

“For those of us in the Alzheimer’s field, in vivo assessment of synaptic density may transform our ability to track early Alzheimer’s pathogenesis and response to treatment,” he said.

Scientists around the world are rushing to understand Alzheimer’s and discover ways of treating patients and preventing the disease in the future.

Researchers made a disheartening find recently when they discovered that vitamin D may not be effective in fighting off dementia after all.

Medical experts previously reported a possible link between low levels of vitamin D and the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s, causing thousands to pop a supplement and increase their time in the sun in an effort to fight off the diseases.

However, an analysis of 70 other studies has now found that taking in more vitamin D may not actually be an effective way to stave off dementia.


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