What if a saliva test could detect Alzheimer’s?

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What if you could detect your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s by taking a simple saliva test? Does it sound too good to be true? Well according to a small study presented at the 2015 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington DC, researchers suggest it could be possible.

Shraddha Sapkota, a neuroscience graduate student, discussed her research team’s study of metabolites in saliva and whether they could be an indicator of metabolism changes in the brain, signaling early stages of the Alzheimer’s disease. A saliva test would be ideal as it can be easily obtained in an affordable and non-evasive way.

What would early detection mean? An at-risk individual would have a larger window of opportunity to have a voice and develop a plan, while family members would be given more time to prepare and discuss options.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 5.3 million Americans are currently living with the Alzheimer’s disease. The number of Americans with dementia will continue to grow as the baby boomer generation (75 million Americans) approaches retirement age. Currently, there is no way to prevent, cure, or slow down the Alzheimer’s disease.

Early detection of the disease could allow at-risk individuals to enroll in clinical trials to test possible treatments. It could also, perhaps one day, allow doctors to intervene or delay the onset of dementia. Sapkota’s research is still preliminary, so for now we will have to wait and see. 

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