Early detection and differential diagnosis

Early detection and differential diagnosis

The early detection of Alzheimer's Disease is becoming increasingly important as scientists begin to develop effective treatments for symptoms.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have developed a new test which can detect Alzheimer's Disease at an early stage in just 10 minutes. The test can also distinguish Alzheimer's sufferers from patients with depression and people without any neuropsychiatric disorder with 98 per cent accuracy.

Professor Trevor Robbins and Dr Barbara Sahakian developed the test, called the CANTAB Paired Associates Learning Test, at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. The results are published in the journal Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders.

CANTAB-PAL has already been shown to be a highly sensitive tool for early detection of Alzheimer's Disease in patients attending the Memory Clinic at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

The study showed that patients who had questionable dementia at the start of the study, but who went on to show cognitive decline over eight months, were the patients with the most errors on the CANTAB-PAL test.

Dr Sahakian explained:

"The CANTAB-PAL's sensitivity to Alzheimer's Disease is related to the fact that the areas of the brain first affected in Alzheimer's Disease are the same areas utilised when performing the test.

"We anticipate this test will be useful not only for early detection of Alzheimer's Disease, but could also be used to measure the beneficial effects of current pharmacological treatments, such as the cholinesterase inhibitors, as well as future ones, including neuroprotective agents."

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