Early testing for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s enables people to take preventive brain care. Stay proactive with doctors, families and caretakers to slow or stop the progression.
Discover the Benefits of Early Detection for Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s
The Benefits of Early Detection
We all have a basic understanding that early detection and accurate diagnosis are keys to our overall, long-term health. We visit doctors for annual checkups and take health screenings to protect us from certain diseases. However, a significant health concern—brain health—is one that we couldn’t successfully prescreen for: UNTIL NOW.
Why do accurate screening tests matter? We think that the lack of a reliable test based on biomarkers of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is a major contributing factor why medical science has unable to get ahead of the curve in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Did you know that over the past three decades, there have been countless clinical trials for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and billions of dollars invested in medical research? However, successful drugs and treatments have been beyond reach.
At Amprion, our goal is to turn the tide on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. We’re working hard to innovate drug and treatment research and development.
To do that, we begin with accurate biomarker tests for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Amprion’s Prion Early Detection Testing enables doctors to diagnose, definitively, both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases at the earliest stages—decades before the patient shows any clinical symptoms.
Why does testing for Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s early matter? Because for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, when the body shows early signs of symptoms at the time of clinical diagnosis, this means the brain has already suffered irreversible damage, possibly over 10 to 30 years.
The health of our brain cells is critical because once precious neurons die, they do not recover. The damage to the brain has already occurred, and it’s permanent. There is no path to full recovery.
Accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is mission-critical. Catching these diseases early is the only way to advance scientific research in developing a cure for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, thereby stopping these centuries-old diseases.
Just like in any illness, knowing the disease early protects you, your future self, and your loved ones.
As you discover the benefits of early detection tests for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, you will see that we strive to empower people to embrace preventive brain care. Getting tested for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s also equips scientists and researchers with critical data to develop successful drugs and other treatments for these diseases.
Are you ready to learn how our Early Detection Testing for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s can benefit you? Let’s start with the basics.
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have proven to be a global health crisis. New cases are consistently on the rise. Approximately 5.8 million people have some level of Alzheimer’s dementia in North America. Research shows that in the US alone, the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease may grow to nearly 13.8 million by 2050.
When looking at PD, the numbers are less staggering, but it’s still a threat. In America, approximately 1 million people live with PD currently, while 60,000 new patients are diagnosed each year.
Due to the lack of early diagnosis currently, these numbers may be even higher, as doctors can only diagnose Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s diseases at symptomatic stages. In reality, this means late stages when the patient’s brain has already suffered from decades of irreversible damage.
Hence, we make it our mission to provide people with an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It’s our goal that biomarker-based tests of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s represent step 1 in working towards a cure. Otherwise, more and more people will continue to suffer from these progressively debilitating diseases.
To understand the science of early testing and accurate detection, you must first understand both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It affects memory, behavior, and cognition. Over time the disease progresses to negatively impact every part of the person’s life, including day-to-day activities and functions.
Alzheimer’s is typically diagnosed in people who are 65 and older. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (for people in their 30s and 40s) is uncommon and represents approximately 5%-6% of cases. However, we know that for many people who will experience the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s in their later years, the disease has already been active and progressing in their 40s, 50’s, or 60’s.
It is highly likely that the lack of early biomarker testing using spinal taps or blood for Alzheimer’s disease contributes to the misinformed perception that Alzheimer’s is mainly a disease of older individuals.
What Causes Alzheimer’s
Specific causes of Alzheimer’s and other dementia types are mostly unknown. Science has shown that you may have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s if you have close family members diagnosed. However, many people with Alzheimer’s do not have a close family link.
According to decades of research studies conducted by Amprion and other scientific organizations, misfolded proteins are present in patients’ brains that cause slow, progressive damage to the brain cells, a process spanning over decades.
What Are the Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s?
So far, research studies have identified three proteins that are biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. They are misfolded forms of Abeta, Tau, and Synuclein. As a group, we also refer to these misfolded proteins as “prions” based on their ability to grow in large numbers and spread from cell to cell.
One misfolded protein, beta-amyloid or Abeta, can be seen in plaques. The second misfolded protein, Tau, presents as tangles. The third misfolded protein, Synuclein, forms microscopic structures called Lewy Bodies, found in 40% of Alzheimer’s patients.
It is common knowledge that Abeta plaques and Tau tangles are associated with almost all of Alzheimer’s cases. However, the presence of misfolded Synuclein in 40% of cases complicates Alzheimer’s diagnosis further. Both types of prions: Tau and Synuclein can act independently to bring irreversible damage to the brain’s memory area.
Scientists are working to understand whether misfolded Synuclein and Tau’s presence in the same patient contributes to faster progression or results in more severe damage to the brain.
From the brain’s memory areas, the misfolded Synuclein and Tau can spread to other regions, affecting other essential neurological functions, such as speech, vision, or movement.
How Is Alzheimer’s Diagnosed?
Currently, doctors can only diagnose Alzheimer’s when a patient shows up at the doctor’s office with symptoms. This is a late-stage diagnosis, as the patient’s brain has suffered irreversible damage from decades of decline, possibly beginning in his/her 30’s or 40’s. Why is this late stage diagnosis? Because the key misfolded proteins, Abeta and Tau, take decades to build up and spread, causing progressive damage over time inside the brain.
Methods of Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
- Cognitive Assessment
Currently, doctors mainly rely on cognitive assessments to detect Alzheimer’s. These tests are done either using computer software or through clinical behavioral assessment.
- Brain Imaging or PET Scan
Doctors also employ Brain Imaging, including MRI and PET scans, to show Alzheimer’ s-affected areas. Radiotracers or charged particles may be used to locate Abeta-amyloid and Tau in the afflicted areas.
The problem with the above traditional screening tests for Alzheimer’s is that patients are diagnosed at a very late stage, meaning after Alzheimer’s disease has already progressed substantially. This late-stage diagnosis severely limits the patient’s ability to slow down the disease through preventive care. Because sadly, it is impossible to reverse the damages inflicted in the brain.
Most people didn’t know there was such a thing as Parkinson’s Disease until 1991 when Michael J. Fox publicly announced he had been diagnosed with early-onset PD. He was only 29 at the time of this diagnosis. This was the fuel behind the launch of the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000. Michael J. Fox’s situation was unique because PD most commonly affects patients above the age of 60.
Unfortunately, PD is more common than most people realize. Up to 20% of patients with PD can show early symptoms, including:
- Trouble sleeping,
- Memory loss or
- Balance issues, etc.
What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?
Like Alzheimer’s disease, the cause of Parkinson’s disease is mostly unknown. However, scientists are starting to learn more about the condition.
Biomarkers For Parkinson’s
Research has shown that there are misfolded Synuclein and Lewy Bodies in every case of Parkinson’s disease. While multiple misfolded proteins, including Synuclein, may be found in Alzheimer’s patients, most patients with Parkinson’s show only misfolded Synuclein.
What Are Lewy Bodies?
Lewy Bodies are microscopic structures found within brain cells (or neurons) of patients suffering from neurodegenerative disorders associated with the misfolded protein Synuclein. They are comprised of mainly misfolded Synuclein plus lipids and membrane fragments.
Lewy Bodies are associated with damages to both motor and memory areas. This may be why people with Parkinson’s diagnosis often also develop cognitive, neurological problems, unfortunately. When this happens, it is called Parkinson’s Disease Dementia.
Watch this short video “The Enemy of Brain Health” to learn more about misfolded Synuclein.
How Is PD Diagnosed Currently?
Similar to Alzheimer’s disease, the current diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is also based mainly on symptoms. Diagnosis before the age of 50 is considered early-onset Parkinson’s disease.
- Brain Scan For Parkinson’s
Doctors may also rely on an MRI or radioactive brain scan to rule out other causes of Parkinson’s-like symptoms. Although these scans rarely provide a definitive diagnosis of PD, they may indicate reduced levels of dopamine activity in regions of the brain associated with damages from PD. This can potentially reveal the presence of irreversible disease, but cannot help prevent the disease.
- Innovative Biomarker Testing For Parkinson’s
Recent advancements in molecular science lead to breakthrough testing for Parkinson’s disease. The Parkinson’s Progressive Marker Initiative or PPMI is beginning to roll out on a research basis to test Parkinson’s disease and develop effective therapies to delay or stop the onset of PD symptoms at early stages.
This innovative approach to identifying early biomarkers for Parkinson’s includes Amprion’s technology to detect a key biomarker misfolded Synuclein aggregates or “Synuclein” in short by using either spinal tap or blood.
Watch this video to learn how our Parkinson’s test works.
In recognition of Amprion’s role as a pioneer of biomarker testing for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, the US FDA awarded Amprion Breakthrough Device Designation to detect misfolded Synuclein in May of 2019. Amprion expects to launch its commercial testing for Parkinson’s by the first half of 2021. Learn more about Parkinson’s test here.
Viewpoint On ParkinZheimer
As you can see, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may have their differences, but these two neurological diseases also share many similarities. We think of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s as two distinct diseases on the same spectrum.
We call this the ParkinZheimer Spectrum.
In our view, understanding the unique characteristics of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s enables us to home in on the development of accurate tests for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
We want to provide doctors with biomarker tests for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, improving the accuracy of diagnosis for these challenging diseases.
“To treat a disease, any disease, the key is to know the disease exists in the body as early as possible. This is the same for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s ultimately leads us to find a cure.”
This ParkinZheimer way of thinking leads us to breakthrough discoveries to detect Synuclein, associated with Parkinson’s and other related neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s. This award earned Amprion a spot in the fast-track lane of development with our FDA breakthrough designation.
Why Is Parkinson’s / Alzheimer’s Difficult to Diagnose?
Researchers and scientists have been studying neurodegenerative diseases for more than 100 years but without success. This is because biomarker testing for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s has been impossible.
Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s early symptoms can be non-specific. This elusive nature of the warning signs often befuddles the medical field’s best practitioners, leading to misdiagnosis. Up to 30% of cases may be misdiagnosed initially. Clinical diagnosis accuracy improves as the disease progresses since early warning signs gradually become more visible and specific.
How can this be? Well. Here’s a good example: What appears to be a neurodegenerative condition for one disease may also look like symptoms for other diseases. For instance, memory loss, as an early sign of Alzheimer’s, can be linked to various other conditions, including:
- Side Effects Caused By Prescription Or Over-The-Counter Medications
- Vitamin Deficiencies
- Minor Head Traumas
- Emotional Disorders
- Normal Age-related Memory Loss.
Other early symptoms of Alzheimer’s, including balance issues, depression, and inability to focus, are also seen in patients with other health issues.
For PD, some early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease or “red-flags” also occur among people in good health. For example, we all occasionally experience constipation, stiff muscles, muscle twitches, nightmares, etc. Some prescription medications may also have side effects that mimic symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
In both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s cases, the potential for misdiagnosis is even higher for younger patients, as both diseases are relatively uncommon. Most doctors would rather not jump the gun and suggest someone could have one of these serious diseases when there are no definitive diagnostics tools, just yet.
Therefore, despite a suspicion for these diseases, doctors are hesitant to suggest to people in their 30s-50s that they “may” have PD or AD, especially when there are no validated biomarker tests to confirm or negate the diagnosis. The only definitive test is on a molecular level, in which actual biomarkers that drive the disease are detected.
At Amprion, this is what we do. We believe in the power of molecular science. We track the biomarkers aka Prions, including misfolded Synuclein, Tau, and Abeta, which relate to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. We call these misfolded proteins “rogue proteins”.
Our job is to detect these prions during the development stages in the brain when we are in our 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Our goal is to avoid or minimize the amount of damage to the brain through early preventive care.
Ultimately, we aim to catch these rogue proteins early and to eliminate them before they can harm our brain.
With our newfound detection technology, we provide people with early tests of PD and early tests of AD. Through Amprion’s detection technology, we can diagnose Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s decades before symptoms appear.
Early testing for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s is world-changing, as it will lead to a cure.
How Does Amprion’s Testing Work?
Our biomarker tests monitor abnormal misfolded proteins, including Abeta-amyloid or Abeta, Tau, and Synuclein. These biomarkers are present in various combinations among Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients. We plan to offer clinical testing for Synuclein initially, beginning in the second quarter of 2021.
What is so significant is that by using a small sample of spinal tap or blood, we can track the footprints of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s before the disease causes irreversible damage in the brain, thereby enabling preventive brain care to delay or stop the onset of symptoms.
The key to detecting the disease early is to empower people to get a handle on the disease. To be a part of the solution. And to slow or stop the progression. Ultimately, this will lead to finding a cure.
What Is The Difference Between A Test Using Spinal Fluid Or Blood?
To test for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s’ at the development stage—decades before symptoms, we recommend a biomarker test using cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) obtained through a spinal tap.
Why? During the early stages of development, the prions or misfolded proteins are at the highest concentrations in the brain and in spinal fluid. By the time the prions are measurable in the blood, they have managed to travel through the blood-brain barrier into the body. It means the disease has progressed to a much later stage, and a tremendous amount of irreversible damage has occurred.
As a result, blood tests, although accurate, are best used as screening tests. They measure the disease footprint at a more “advanced” stage, compared with a test using spinal fluid.
What Early Diagnosis Could Mean
Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s brings multiple benefits. Ultimately it means that we will have fewer and fewer victims suffering from these devastating diseases.
From a medical science point of view, early testing of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s can drastically accelerate scientific research in finding a cure, stopping these horrible diseases. To develop effective drugs and treatments through vigorous clinical trials, we need reliable and ongoing research data. Accurate and early diagnostic information is critical to enriching scientific studies.
For people who might be affected by Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, we hope to improve the quality of life through early intervention and early preventive brain health. It gives people precious time to adopt a healthier lifestyle, make dietary changes, and develop positive behaviors to avoid doing things that may further advance the disease. These include:
- Quit Smoking
- Eat a Healthy Diet: One that is rich in fruit, vegetables, and lean proteins, as well as increasing Omega 3 Fatty Acids. You may also consider leaning toward a more organic diet to avoid pesticides and herbicides.
- Exercise More: Not just the body but the mind. We recommend that you exercise more, socialize more, and keep your mind active. Regular meditation can help also.
- Reduce Stress: Stress can cause various health concerns, including increased blood pressure, decreased immune system function, heart disease, etc. These things can also contribute to neurological issues and make them worse.
For People who are genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, testing for the disease early enables people to take proactive steps to slow it down, which could delay further progression before the irreparable motor and cognitive symptoms appear. It also empowers people to seek treatment sooner.
“The goal is to combat progression through early detection. Knowledge is power.”
Treatment Options For PD and AD
Although there is no cure yet for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, there are some helpful drugs available in the marketplace, including:
For Parkinson’s Disease: One common medication is Carbidopa-levodopa. It is a natural chemical that can transform into dopamine. This may reduce the frequency and severity of Parkinson’s symptoms for the first few years after diagnosis.
For Alzheimer’s Disease: Earlier diagnosis means earlier treatment in the form of cholinesterase inhibitors. This is a type of medication that can reduce symptoms and help you live a less compromised life. However, once people with Alzheimer’s symptoms progress to moderate and severe Alzheimer’s, these medications typically are not effective for long term use.
Is Early Testing Right for You?
We have talked a lot about early testing for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. In the near term, the goal for early diagnosis is to delay or stop the disease’s progression. In the longer term, our objective for getting tested early is to empower science to catch up, to unlock the mystery of treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, just as science has done for cancer.
For now, you aren’t sick, you feel fine, and you have nothing that can really be considered a “symptom”. Therefore, we know most patients want to know, “How do you know if you need to test for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s?”
The only way to know for sure if you are at risk for developing Alzheimer’s is to look at your genetic makeup and family history. If one or more members of your family have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s or even late-onset, then you may have a genetically increased risk.
To rule out future issues for yourself, you may want to get tested and perhaps begin to do things that keep your mind and body strong. You should also get tested if you are concerned about early symptoms that you may be experiencing.
The causes of Parkinson’s disease have been baffling, even to experts. Parkinson’s disease may have either genetic or environmental origins.
Regarding genetics, approximately 10% of people with Parkinson’s disease appear to be linked to the disease through their genetic makeup. Therefore, if you have someone in your family diagnosed with Parkinson’s, you may be at an increased risk of developing it as early-onset or late-onset.
Regarding environmental-related risks, studies have also shown that Parkinson’s cases may appear as geographic clusters, affecting multiple people who live or work in the same area at the same time. Therefore, you could develop PD by merely living in an area where pesticides and other environmental toxins have been present, or you drank contaminated well water for years. Other proposed causes lie outside of the brain itself, where diet or toxic gut bacteria may play a role for some patients.
Despite genetic and environmental links to Parkinson’s disease, 80% of Parkinson’s patients have no known cause. This is referred to as Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease.
For both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients, repeated head trauma represents a shared trigger for later development of both diseases. This is frequently observed in athletes and soldiers.
In short, whether you are concerned about Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases, you could benefit from early testing to ensure that you have nothing to worry about in the best case scenario, providing you with a peace of mind. In the unfortunate event that the test turns out positive, the knowledge can help you proactively prepare and navigate your journey well in advance to safeguard your future!
The Future Beyond Testing
As we can see, traditional testing methods for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s have left a lot to be desired, as diagnosis still relies heavily on clinical observation. There has never been a definitive way to screen asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic individuals for either Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, until NOW!
“Keep in mind that even you have a family history of either Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, it does not mean that you will automatically develop the disease.”
For patients showing the earliest signs of possible cognitive decline, referred to as Minimal Cognitive Impairment (MCI), most of these patients do not progress to Alzheimer’s after five years of follow up. Many of these patients do not progress, while others may even show some improvement over time. However, those with true Alzheimer’s will continue to progress to more severe cognitive impairment.
This is a crucial decision point where a definitive biomarker test for Alzheimer’s can be life-changing. Rather than living in the land of uncertainty, getting a clear picture of the disease – positive or negative – helps everyone. And what a great relief if the test turns out negative!
By taking advantage of early testing and detection, you are fighting back against neurological problems in the future. You’re a part of the solution. You help advance the cause for humanity to stop Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
At Amprion, we want to make biomarker testing of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s a new standard. Our mission is to help people make informed choices to achieve optimal brain health. Because the brain is the most powerful organ in our body, it deserves our maximum attention and extra care.
Mayo Clinic – Young-onset Alzheimer’s
Parkinson.org – Understanding Parkinsons
Apdaparkinson.org – What Is Parkinson’s
NIA NIH – What Is Lewy Body
ALZ.Org – What is Dementia – Lewy Body Dementia
ALZ.Org – What is Dementia – What is Parkinson’s Dementia
Mayo Clinic – Alzheimer’s Prevention
Judson Smart Living – Prevent Parkinson’s Disease
Mayo Clinic – Diagnosis & Treatment
NIA NIH – How is Alzheimer’s Disease Treated
ALZ Journals – Alzheimer’s Documentation
Parkinson’s Disease – Statistics
NIA NIH – Assessing the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Michael J Fox Foundation – Michael’s Story
Amprion – Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease
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