NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Alzheimer’s disease often goes undiagnosed for years, and that means treatment is started too late. But, a new test now available in North Texas could change that.
CBS 11 News looks at how the new test is giving many patients more hope and time.
Mary Ann Leap is one of the first people in North Texas to undergo a brand new test. It’s one that could help determine whether or not the Fort Worth resident has Alzheimer’s.
“They’re going in to look at my brain,” Leap said. “See what’s going on in there.”
The 71-year-old says she started having trouble with her speech about two years ago.
“I just couldn’t think of what word I’m supposed to have.”
Leap said her memory just hasn’t been the same and it’s made things “really hard.”
The test Leap has turned to has just been approved by the FDA as a new way to help doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s earlier than ever before.
“Amyloid plaque gets deposited years before clinical symptoms occur,” Baylor Medical Center Irving radiologist Dr. Mike Stewart explained.
Amyloid plaque has been proven to be present in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
“In the past, there’s no way of knowing if it’s present in the brain or not,” Stewart said.
Researchers have since discovered that by using a radioactive substance called Amyvid, they’re now able to see whether or not a particular patient has the plaque in their brain.
When asked if the test would now make it easier to detect Alzheimer’s before it becomes advanced Dr. Stewart said, “That’s the whole idea.”
In fact, Dr. Stewart says several drug companies are now working on therapies that will target amyloid plaque and get rid of it.
“When that happens, this scan will be the most important thing for people to have.
Until then, Mary Ann Leap hopes the results of her test will help doctors determine the best way to treat her now.
Leap said her hope is, “That I’ll have some more years that I’ll be able to talk.”
The test for amyloid plaque is not a definitive diagnostic tool. Doctors use the results from the test in connection with results from other tests to determine the exact diagnosis.