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Another Tool To Get The Jump On Alzheimer's

Earlier this year, I told you a new test -- based on the detection of proteins found in spinal fluid -- developed in hopes of giving medicine the early jump on Alzheimer's. Researchers at MIT have jumped on that bandwagon with a test of their own that's completely noninvasive.

Scientists have developed a contrast agent -- a dye (NIAD-4) -- that binds to plaques in the brain that causes Alzheimer's, then appears when exposed to radiation in the near-infrared range. This process could provide doctors with a means to have a true look at the plaque inside a patient's skull.

The first test of NIAD-4 on living mice proved successful, providing clear visuals of amyloid brain plaques. To make the procedure completely noninvasive, however, scientists will need to refine the dye so it fluoresces at a slightly longer wavelength, closer to the infrared region.

The translucence researchers hope to produce down the road could be comparable to what you'd see if you held a laser pointer against the side of your finger.

In the meantime, your best way to fight Alzheimer's -- a looming health care disaster in the making -- is to treat it with dietary and lifestyle changes. That's why I strongly urge you to read my extensive list of guidelines for blowing away Alzheimer's disease safely, easily and inexpensively.

Science Blog August 26, 2005

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