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Some good news for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease

Posted Mar 07 2011 2:40am

The BBC reports that the government has announced funding worth £775m for research that ministers say will directly benefit NHS patients. Here is part of the report:

The cash will be spent over the next five years on projects that improve results in priority areas, such as heart disease, cancer and dementia. One example is a computer programme that uses brain scans to detect early signs of Alzheimer's Disease.

The money will be reserved for projects described as "translational research" – defined as those that will directly benefit patients.

One such example is the advanced computer programme to spot the early signs of Alzheimer's disease, which has just gone on trial at memory clinics being run in south London by the Maudsley Hospital.

It compares a brain scan to 1,200 existing images of brains already damaged by Alzheimer's and can deliver a diagnosis that is 85% accurate within 24 hours.

Early detection of the disease has previously been hard to achieve, but Professor Rob Howard, an old age psychiatrist at the Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at the Maudsley Hospital says people will now have a chance to know what is wrong with them sooner.

"The earlier we make the diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease, the more able we are to intervene when we have treatments that are likely to work and affect the course of the disease.

"But also the earlier we are able to give our patients either reassuring news that they don't have dementia, or we're able to confirm they do have the diagnosis so they can make the appropriate plans to put their lives in order and seek the help that may be available.

"The important thing about the development we've reported is that it's available as a clinical service. We're talking about something that is done in the clinic routinely and the results are made available to clinicians within a few hours of the patient having had a scan." Read more here


Image: by Malaysian art director, Walter Teoh, World Alzheimer’s Day 2009

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