Alzheimer’s Disease: To Know or Not to Know

Whether or not one is likely to get Alzheimer’s disease, or any other disease for that matter, may not be something people want to know.  In a Washington Post article entitled, “Would You Want to Know if You’re Likely to Get Alzheimer’s Disease?” we learn of an interesting phenomenon where people are reluctant to sign up for a study to develop protocols to prevent memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients because it requires that they be tested for the presence of amyloid plaque in their brains which has been found to be highly associated with developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

Amyloid plaques

Amyloid plaque is clusters of protein in the fatty membrane around nerve cells whose buildup seems to be associated with people with the disease.  According to a study out of Stony Brook University, cognitive impairment may likely result when this protein begins to amass.

Alzheimer's written in wooden cubes on a table

In light of this, researchers are eager to get ahead of the curve and find ways to target and reverse this buildup.  The first study in this area, Anti-Amyloid Treatment of Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s (A4 Study), tests the drug solanezumab.  Although the drug was unable to reverse the effects of full-blown Alzheimer’s, it shows promise for greater impact earlier on by flushing out the amyloid before its buildup can affect cognition.


Yet, few seniors in the 65-85 age range seem willing to be screened in order to be part of a study.  It seems that they would prefer not to be alerted of an impending doom to which they are, at the moment, defenseless.  The screening does include preparing participants for results, but takers are scarce.

This ambivalence about being tested is likely to get even more dicey since a group of British Researchers just announced that they are closing in on a blood test for 10 different blood proteins that can predict with 87% certainty that early signs of dementia will result in Alzheimer’s Disease.

Unfortunately, to move the playing field in the fight of Alzheimer’s to the pre-symptom stage, researchers might have trouble bussing the players to the field.