Researchers at the University of California, in the United States, have developed a new technique to detect the changes that occur in the brain before a person manifests the first symptoms of dementia.
Cognitive deterioration and dementia are pathologies with a high prevalence in the elderly population, and the increase in Life expectancy It implies that more and more people are at risk of developing these conditions, which have become a major public health problem.
An early diagnosis of cognitive deterioration could allow the use of treatments that slow down the progress of the disease and reduce its symptoms
Scientists have not yet found an appropriate treatment to cure diseases such as Alzheimer's, which causes irreversible damage to the brain, and although not all people with mild cognitive impairment develop dementia, many suffer from limitations associated with this disorder, which they often get worse as they get older.
An early diagnosis could allow the use of treatments that slow down the progress of the disease and reduce its symptoms, so many investigations are carried out in order to discover new diagnostic methods that help doctors identify people with a tendency to suffer from some type of disease. of dementia before the first symptoms appear.
The authors of the new study, published in Archives of Neurology, developed a chemical marker (FDDNP) that adhered to accumulations of TAU protein and beta-amyloid plaques that form in the brains of people who develop dementia, and that it is possible to visualize using an imaging technique known as PET (Positron emission tomography).
Over a period of two years, the researchers controlled the evolution of a group of 43 people over 60 years of age without symptoms of dementia - although 21 of them had mild cognitive impairment at the beginning of the study - using the imaging technique to observe the variations in the FDDNP and determining their cognitive capacity through different tests.
The scientists found that cognitive deterioration increased as the accumulations of TAU and beta-amyloid plaques did, and that the areas of the brain most affected by this deterioration were those associated with processes such as memory, reasoning and cognitive impairment. emotions. They also observed that individuals who, at the beginning of the investigation, had a higher level of the FDDNP marker, presented a higher risk of manifesting signs of dementia later.
According to the researchers, changes in the value of this marker contribute to predict the cognitive deterioration that a person will suffer over time, and observe their evolution could serve both to establish a preventive therapy, and to check the effectiveness of the treatments used.