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A new way to diagnose Alzheimer’s offers hope

Knowing, and being able to exercise, your options can be liberating. Perhaps that’s one reason why Alzheimer’s disease is so frightening. It seems to be in control, calling all the shots. There’s nothing you can really do to prevent it. Alzheimer’s has its own timetable. And it has been impossible to diagnose definitively while its victims are alive.

But there is hope on the horizon. A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has recommended approval of a brain scan that might give doctors a new way to diagnose the disease earlier. Need to Know’s medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay tells us what we need to know:



  • Dmlg44

    Very disappointed that you chose this so called “expert.” To promote this new procedure as a definitive test is misleading and leads to false hope. So much is still not known about amyloid plaques. For instance, many people who have them do not develop dementia. Big pharma is pushing this type of test. Bright lights on a brain scan work wonders in persuading the public that a drug is effective, regardless whether it really is or not. Similar types of marketing strategies were used to demonstrate current Alzheimer drugs are effective (i.e significance) when in fact, they are useless.
    For a show such as yours, I thought balanced reporting on the state of Alzheimer’s research was sorely lacking.

  • Nathalie Mayes Propes

    I would really have to think hard (while I still can) as the daughter of an Alzheimer’s victim. What would I do if I did test “positive” for the disease? Would I really believe it if I tested negative? (Or positive, for that matter) Should my family know, thereby putting them in a perpetual state of worry and apprehension? Even today, at age 68, I wonder when I forget a conversation or a name, even tho remembering details has never been my strong suit. Unless/until a definitive treatment (which does not currently exist, no matter what the drug companies say) is available, I think I’ll just remain in blissful ignorance. Live like there’s no tomorrow, for a meteor could strike at any time.

  • Arlene

    What good is finding a diagnosis if there is no cure? That’s what science should be concentrating on. The meds available now don’t do anything to change the outcome. Perhaps stem cell research should be stepped up! Us millions of baby boomers will have tough seas to navigate if nothing is done now for them and ultimately, their caregivers.

  • Bigwilliex

    There are quite a few drugs (like Namenda) that are specifically effective at treating Alzheimers causes (amyloid plaques) and improving Acetylcholine function. They don’t work for other types of dementia, like Pulmonary dementia. Stem cell research would be great.

  • Bigwilliex

    And the images of autopsied, sliced brain; presumably a former alzheimer patient’s, was unnecessary and in poor taste.

  • Lola456789

    Alzheimer as bad as it is still only effected a small part of getting old. NewYork Times hads a very good story about the rest of the problems, we face as we age.

  • Gordon

    The program did not say a word to us what is a PET scan and its side effect!

    Everyone says Alzheimer cannot be cured. It is truth only to western medicine!

    It can actually be cured by Homeopath if you know the remedy formula.

    What is PET? It is Positron emission tomography. Many of us may know what an electron and what a proton are. But, what is a positron? It is an anti-particle or better say it is an anti-electron generated by human.

    Is PET scanning safe? It can be used to make early diagnosis of Alzheimer. It can be used for clinical diagnosis of certain diffuse brain diseases such as those causing dementias. It can be used to study brains. One thing is certain that its radiation being emitted is not insignificant for a scan, which is equivalent to about 250 – 350 chest X-rays. If it is being used in combination of other radioactive scanners like CT, the radioactive emission is substantial, which is equivalent to about 1,150 – 1,300 chest X-rays.

    Will anyone tell us this information before any scanning?

    Basically, how it works is radiotracer carrying positron is admitted to targeting organ(s). Positrons which are an anti-particle (anti-matter) of electrons will hit electrons in target organs; and annihilated (i.e. destroyed completely in a sub-atomic explosion) instead of attracting to each other between electron and proton. Some electrons in target cells within target organs are completely vanished together with foreign radioactive anti-particles (the positrons). If the target organ is a brain, what would be the scanning result? Will the scanning report tell us how many percentage of the scanned brain is damaged? Will it tell us the effect or side effect of these sub-atomic explosions not to mention the high dosage of radioactivity?

    For those who have their brains scanned, will they be able to link the side effects, if any, like memory loss months or years later, to the scans?

    From a documentary, scientist has found out that just a handful of matter collide with a handful of anti-matter, the energy from the annihilation can power up the whole state of California for a week. So, do we know what kind of explosion and its magnitude people are experiencing in their brains in doing such scans?

    All we know is that there is a laboratory in Illinois trying to find gravitons (the gravity particles) that could have escaped to the other dimensions by colliding between proton and anti-proton – similar in nature by colliding between electron and anti-electron in our brains during PET scans.

    The laboratory is located deep underground doing the experience in steel case for safety reasons. Scientists know or worry that this kind of explosion could be dangerous. Some scientists even suggested that such collision or explosion could have a low probability of creating minute black hole that could expand and eat or destroy our planet earth.

    The images they are getting from PET scan are explosions of the brain cells at sub-atomic level. Just like many minute Hiroshima explosions in the brain. This is scary but actually no secret to some health care professionals. In your recent TV documentary about cancer patients, that a patient was being asked if he wanted to have another AB(atomic bomb blast) when the prior treatment was not successful.

    People are being educated to take all kind of tests and medical check ups regularly and periodically. Do they find them helpful? What are the pros and cons? Do we know the physical or chemical or biochemical nature of these tests? What is your decision? Should we do them regularly and periodically?

    Are there any other ways? We don’t need to be a mechanic to know the conditions of our cars. Do we need to be a doctor with all kind of tests to know the conditions of our body? Do we need PET scan to tell us someone is having Alzheimer? Do we need PET scan to make the Alzheimer conditions even worst?

    visit for more.

  • David F., N.A.

    Good show! Dr. Senay said, “Could this be the cholesterol – if you will – of Alzheimer’s disease? Maybe.” If this is true, then is it likely that protein clusters are forming because of what we eat and drink, or maybe a gland? If so, it would be great if the scientists could determine the type of protein cells or molecules and then maybe track them back to their origins.