Alzheimer's can already be recognized by the nose

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Alzheimer's diagnosis based on protein deposits on the nasal mucosa

Alzheimer's can already be recognized in the early stages of the neurodegenerative disease by protein deposits in the nose. Chemists from the TU Darmstadt and pathologists from the Darmstadt Clinic have developed a promising diagnostic method that can detect the so-called tau proteins, which play an important role in the development of Alzheimer's, at an early stage in the nasal mucosa.

In a current press release, TU Darmstadt points out that the newly developed diagnostic procedure can be used to detect the corresponding protein deposits "before a dementia begins in the nasal mucosa". Such an early diagnosis would bring clear advantages for Alzheimer's patients, since the dementia disease is not curable with the current therapeutic agents but is clearly delayed. In the interest of those affected, early diagnosis made it possible to gain a few more years in which the patient can lead a largely normal life.

Dyes make protein deposits on the nasal mucosa visible For years researchers worldwide have been looking for methods that enable the early diagnosis of the risk of Alzheimer's. Because as soon as "the first symptoms appear in short-term memory, there is already considerable damage to the brain," explained the scientists at the Technical University of Darmstadt. In the recent past, research has mainly focused on the protein deposits in the brain that the experts believe are responsible for the death of brain cells. "Until now it was only known that the harmful deposits not only show up in brain cells, but also in the nerve cells of the eyes," explained Professor Boris Schmidt from the Clemens-Schöpf Institute for Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry at the TU Darmstadt. As a result, the focus of research was on "diagnosis by retina scan", which uses "fluorescent dyes to make the deposits in the eye visible to the examining doctor," continues Prof. Schmidt. In the course of their investigations with the fluorescent dyes, researchers from the Technical University and the Darmstadt Clinic discovered that the dyes also make the corresponding protein deposits visible on the nasal mucosa. "We found the typical deposits on the so-called Bowman's glands in the nose, which among other things produce the nasal secretions," explained Prof. Schmidt the approach to developing the novel diagnostic method now presented.

The stage of Alzheimer's disease can be recognized by the nasal mucosa. Since the protein deposits on the nasal mucosa correlate very closely with the deposits in the brain that trigger Alzheimer's, the new diagnostic method also provides relatively accurate information about the stage of the patient's illness, Prof. Schmidt emphasized the advantages of the examination method . The Darmstadt-based researchers have already tested their method for detecting protein deposits in 100 deceased Alzheimer's patients "in order to be able to determine the earliest possible diagnosis," the statement in the current press release. Prof. Schmidt and colleagues found that the more tau deposits were found in the patient's noses, the more affected were brain structures. A comparable "connection with the deposits in the eye has not yet been reliably determined," explained Prof. Schmidt. In addition, the effort and impairment of the patients in the nasal mucous membrane examination are far less than in the retina scan. Those affected could take the color substance in tablet form or by nasal spray and a light endoscope would then be sufficient for the subsequent examination, according to the researchers from Darmstadt.

More and more people affected by Alzheimer's disease According to Prof. Schmidt and colleagues, the importance of progress in Alzheimer's research can be seen in the development of the neurodegenerative disease in recent decades. More and more people are affected, with no prospect of healing and Alzheimer's patients increasingly suffer from symptoms such as lack of orientation in time and space, memory loss, confusion and the loss of previous knowledge or skills, which often leads to a complete change in personality brings with it. Alzheimer's patients usually need long-term care. According to the researchers from Darmstadt, Alzheimer's is "the most common form of irreversible dementia", with an estimated 1.2 million people suffering from Alzheimer's disease in Germany today and an increase in those affected to 2.3 million in 2030. The World Health Organization estimates 42 million people with Alzheimer's worldwide. Since the neurodegenerative disease is still not curable, "the hope lies in therapies that delay or delay the progression of the disease," the TU Darmstadt said in the current press release. "However, early diagnosis of the disease is essential for its effective use," Prof. Schmidt emphasized the advantages of the new diagnostic procedure. (fp)

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