It’s not every day a breakthrough comes along that gets me excited, but this one is an exception. I am always looking for new ways to help my patients, and I hope this new test for detecting Alzheimer’s will prove to be an efficient and effective tool.
As of today, there is no single test that can determine whether or not you have Alzheimer’s. In fact, diagnosing this disease can be a long, drawn out process. It usually begins with a neurological assessment in the doctor’s office. That assessment can be followed with brain scans, blood tests, and genetic tests. And then there are more invasive tests that measure the amount of amyloid-β and tau in cerebral spinal fluid.
But a new study out of Canada may change all that.
Researchers were able to discriminate between normal aging, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and Alzheimer’s disease (AD)—all with just one swab of saliva.
First the researchers accessed data from the Victoria Longitudinal Study, a long-term investigation of human aging. Then 82 people had their saliva analyzed. The researchers determined that 35 were aging normally, 25 had MCI, and 22 had Alzheimer’s.
Since saliva, like urine and blood, is a biological fluid, when tested correctly, it can provide an instant snapshot of what’s in a person’s cells. And what’s particularly remarkable about this study is that the new technology they used was not only able to detect a larger number of metabolites (or distinctions) in the saliva samples, these newly discovered biomarkers could predict differences in the person’s cognitive performance.
The research results add weight to the idea that AD risk can be detected early both in persons with MCI and in those with normal aging, which could be a significant breakthrough for our elderly population. Particularly since this test would be inexpensive and easy to do.
This test is not available to the public just yet, and there is still a lot of research that must happen before it is. But the sooner, the better.
The only hurdle I see is that saliva changes constantly depending on the time of day it’s collected.
But I am sure with further testing those subtle changes can be overcome—and when they are I will be the first in line to stock up on these tests for my patients.
In the meantime, there are plenty of things you can do right now to keep your brain sharp. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I shared some exciting new evidence showing that it’s possible to improve your memory and refresh your focus in as little as one hour. You can read more about this groundbreaking discovery on my website.