Classifying Alzheimer’s disease

Author: Ivanhoe Newswire
Published: Updated:
A man with Alzheimer's disease with a loved one. (Ivanhoe Newswire photo)
A man with Alzheimer’s disease with a loved one. (Ivanhoe Newswire photo)

Right now, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. That number is expected to exceed 14 million by 2050. While there’s no cure for this common brain disease, scientists may now be able to classify it better.

Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.

“And once it begins, it’s something that unfortunately we can’t stop,” said Matt Grilli, PhD, Director Human Memory Lab at University of Arizona.

But scientists are starting to get a clearer picture of it. In a new study, researchers looked at more than 4,000 patients with late-onset Alzheimer’s. They placed them in six different groups based on the results of cognitive functioning testing and found significant distinctions in each. For instance, patients in the subgroups had differences in memory, language, and even their genes. This is exciting because it shows Alzheimer’s may not be a one-size-fits-all disease and it could provide a better way to detect or treat the disease down the road.

“We know that early diagnosis of this disease is really key for trying to treat the symptoms, for helping with providing resources to patients and their families,” Dr. Grilli continued.

Some early symptoms of Alzheimer’s include: memory loss, difficulty solving problems, changes in mood, and sometimes, vision problems. Recognizing the signs could get you or a family member the help you need, sooner.

The new study on classifying Alzheimer’s included 19 researchers from several institutions. It took more than two years for them just to standardize the neuropsychological test scores across the studies to detect meaningful patterns.

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