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 diagnosis are key to our overall, long-term health. We visit doctors for annual checkups and do health screenings to protect us from certain diseases. However, one major health concern—brain health—is one that we couldn’t successfully prescreen for: UNTIL NOW.
Over the past three decades, there have been massive and worldwide clinical trials, decades of research, and billions of dollars invested in research. However, science has been unable to keep up or get ahead.
Our goal is to find a way to change the cycle of drug innovation through early detection science so that we can accurately detect both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. And to detect the disease early, before the body shows any symptoms.
Why Does This Matter?
Because for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, when the body shows early signs of symptoms, that means the brain has suffered a great deal of damage, over a period anywhere from 10 to 30 years earlier. The health of our brain cells is critical because once the precious neurons die, they do not recover. The damage to the brain is irreversible. This makes catching the disease early mission-critical for us to change the game on 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 for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, you’ll see that we strive to empower people. Scientists and researchers will not stop working toward finding a successful way to treat it.
Are you ready to learn how our Prion Early Detection Science can help? Let’s start with the basics.
Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s have proven to be a global health crisis. New cases are consistently on the rise. In fact, there’s an estimation of approximately 5.8 million people who have some level of Alzheimer’s dementia in North America. Research also shows that for Alzheimer’s, the number of people in the United States with a diagnosis may grow to nearly 13.8 million by 2050.
When looking at PD, the numbers are less staggering but still scary. Estimates are that approximately 1 million Americans live with PD and roughly 60,000 new diagnoses come each year.
Another truth is that these numbers may be even higher because of a lack of early diagnoses. We have to find a way to detect the illness earlier so that we can start working toward a cure. Otherwise, more and more people will continue to suffer from these progressively debilitating diseases.
To understand the science of early detection, you must first understand the diseases.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It affects memory, behavior, and cognition. Over time, it can begin to affect every part of the patient’s life including day-to-day activities and functions. It is typically diagnosed in patients who are 65 and older, but it can be diagnosed in people as young as 30-40-years. Currently, doctors can only diagnose the disease when a patient shows up at the doctor’s office with symptoms. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is uncommon. Only 5%-6% of people will be diagnosed in the early stages. However, they may show symptoms and feel the effects of it in their life.
Specific causes of Alzheimer’s and other dementia types are mostly unknown. Science accepts that you may have an increased risk of it if you have family members with a diagnosis. However, there could be specific things that trigger it as well. Amprion and other organizations have noticed that there are misfolded proteins in a patient’s brain that can kill and damage surrounding nerve cells.
One protein, beta-amyloid, can be seen in plaques. The second, tau, presents as tangles. The third protein, synuclein, presents as microscopic structures called Lewy Bodies and has been found in 40% of patients with Alzheimer’s. The combination of Lewy Bodies plus Tau tangles is the biggest concern. These are two factors that are strongly associated with irreversible damage to the memory area of the brain. From there, the Lewy Bodies and tangles can move on, invading other areas of the brain where they can affect other parts of a person’s life.
How Is Alzheimer’s Diagnosed?
Currently, doctors rely on cognitive assessments to detect Alzheimer’s testing. These tests are computer-based or behavioral. The problem with these tests is that they can only diagnose a patient after AD has progressed substantially. This limits our ability to slow down the disease because sadly, it is impossible to turn back time on the damage that has already been done.
Brain imaging may also show Alzheimer’s-affected areas if we use radiotracers or charged particles. It works by highlighting the afflicted areas where beta-amyloid and tau are found.
Most people didn’t know that there was such a thing as Parkinson’s Disease until 1991. This was when Michael J. Fox publicly announced that he had been diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease. 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 beyond the age of 60.
Unfortunately, PD is more common than most people realize, increasing annually by about 1 million new parents in the US alone. Up to 20% of patients with PD show early symptoms including:
- trouble sleeping,
- memory loss or
- balances issues
Currently, the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is also based on symptoms. In PD, a diagnosis before the age of 50 is considered early-onset Parkinson’s disease.
Like Alzheimer’s, the cause of Parkinson’s disease is largely unknown. However, scientists are starting to learn more about the disease. In every case of Parkinson’s that has been diagnosed, misfolded Synuclein and Lewy Bodies have been noted. This is why people with a Parkinson’s diagnosis often develop cognitive neurological problems. It is called Parkinson’s Disease Dementia.
How Is PD Diagnosed Currently?
Similar to Alzheimer’s, the diagnoses of Parkinson’s is also mainly based on symptoms. However, when there is a concern over early-stage PD or risk factors that may indicate its presence, there are biomarker testing options as well.
This is important because early-onset Parkinson’s disease symptoms, such as tremors, may take ten years or more to show up. Biomarker-testing allow physicians to diagnose and treat the loss of dopaminergic neurons before it progresses into Parkinson’s disease. It is done through a DaTscan, or SPECT imaging of dopamine transporters at dopaminergic nerve terminals along the nigrostriatal pathways.
The Parkinson Progressive Marker Initiative—or PPM—is also being used to help scientists develop effective therapies. This includes Amprion’s technology for detecting misfolded synuclein aggregates in spinal tap and/or blood if there is a suspicion of Parkinson’s Disease. Learn more about how Amprion’s testing work here.
We’ve also noticed that it’s possible to find misfolded Tau in certain Parkinson’s patients. This could be due to environmental factors like living or working in areas where organic and industrial pollutants exist or having a traumatic injury to the head. An MRI or radioactive brain scan, although unable to provide a definitive diagnosis of PD, can point to other issues and show dopamine levels. This can potentially indicate the disease.
As you can see, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may have their differences, but these two neurological diseases fit into the same basic spectrum. We call this the ParkinZheimer Spectrum. Meaning, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are also highly similar. By understanding their unique characteristics, we can zero-in on creating an early testing technology to diagnose the entire spectrum of diseases, and ultimately leading us to a cure. This ParkinZheimer way of thinking helps us make breakthrough discoveries in our detection science.
Now, for the Science: A Look at Our Latest Options
Why have we been studying neurodegenerative conditions for 100s of years without success? The answer to this is simple. Often, when looking at a neurodegenerative condition, it can appear to be something else. For instance, memory loss, as an early sign of Alzheimer’s, can be linked to various other conditions including:
- Vitamin B-12 Deficiencies
- Minor Head Traumas
- Emotional Disorders
- Normal Age-related memory loss
Other symptoms of Alzheimer’s including balance issues, depression, inabilities to focus, can also reveal other problems.
Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease in Disguise
Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may also be diagnosed as something else because we all experience stiff muscles, muscle twitches, nightmares, etc., occasionally. Usually, it does not appear to be a “red-flag”.
In both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s cases, there is too much of a potential for misdiagnosis, especially for younger patients. This is usually due to the fact that your doctor would rather not jump the gun and mention you could have one of these diseases. It tends to stress out people who are in their 30s-40s, thinking that they “may” have PD or AD, especially when there hasn’t been a test to confirm or negate the possible diagnosis.
It’s important that a test, any test, has the ability to give the definitive answer as a diagnosis. And the only way to get there is on a molecular level, in which a test can detect the biomarker-bad-actor(s) that drives the disease.
At Amprion, this is what we do. We’ve always believed in molecular science. We track the biomarkers, including misfolded Synclein, Tau, and Abeta that relate to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. And we can track these “rogue proteins” early before they damage our brain by killing the neurons—in stealth mode—during the development stages when we are in our 30’s and 40’s.
Ultimately, our goal is simple: To catch these rogue proteins early and find a way to eliminate them before they can harm our brain.
With this newfound technology, we can detect PD and AD decades before actual symptoms appear. This means we are embarking on the path that will lead to developing a cure. This will end the pain and suffering of millions of people all over the world.
How Does Amprion’s Testing Work?
Our tests are based on biomarker testing that checks for abnormal forms of beta-amyloid, tau, and synuclein. They are commonly present in Alzheimer’s patients. This is significant because, with a simple examination of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, we can see the footprints of Alzheimer’s before anyone has to suffer a mental decline.
Other testing options include a simple blood test to check for misfolded proteins including Abeta, Tau, and Synuclein. Using the blood test is obviously easier and less intrusive, however, it also means that the blood tests check for abnormalities of these rogue proteins at a much later stage of development since the disease starts in the brain. By the time these rogue proteins are measurable in the blood, this means they have managed to cross the blood-brain barrier and into the body. Therefore, the blood tests, although accurate, measures the disease footprint at a more prominent or “advanced” stages.
To check for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease at the earliest of stages, we recommend testing be done using spinal tap.
What Early Diagnosis Could Mean
Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s could mean that ultimately we see fewer devastating cases of this disease. We hope to improve the quality of life for people who may one day develop Alzheimer’s symptoms.
The same is true for people with Parkinson’s disease. Early diagnosis for Parkinson’s could mean that it doesn’t progress to the point of taking over your body completely. It allows you to avoid doing things that may cause the disease to advance. This includes:
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.
Not just the body, but the mind. We recommend you exercise, socialize, and keep your mind active. And meditation.
Stress can cause a variety of 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.
So by discovering that you are “predestined” or have a genetic makeup that allows for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease to develop, you can take steps to slow it down. This could prevent problems before irreparable motor symptoms are done to your mind and allow you to get treatment sooner. The goal is to combat progression.
For PD, one common medication is Carbidopa-levodopa. It is a natural chemical that can transform into dopamine.
For AD, the 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 symptomatic life. Once people with Alzheimer’s symptoms progress to moderate and severe Alzheimer’s other medications are used to treat it. However, they aren’t typically good for the long term.
Is Early Testing Right for You?
We have talked a lot about early testing for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The goal of early testing is early prevention of these diseases progressing. 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 really know if you need to be tested?”
The only way to know for sure if you’re at risk for developing Alzheimer’s is to look at your genetic makeup. If someone in your family has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s or late-onset, then you may have a genetically increased risk. To rule out future issues for yourself, you will want to have testing done 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 was, at different times, believed to be either genetic or environmental in origin. At the time, all we knew was that in Parkinson’s patients, nerves would die within the brain area called the substantia nigra. We now know that some people have an increased genetic risk of the disease. Therefore, if you have someone in your family that was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, you may be at an increased risk for developing it as early-onset or late-onset.
There have also been studies done that show Parkinson’s 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 simply living in an area where pesticides and other environmental toxins have been used and you drank well water for years.
For both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients, repeated head trauma represents a shared trigger for later development of both diseases. Frequently observed in athletes and soldiers, this is another key observation linking Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s onto the ParkinZheimer Spectrum.
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. Early testing through Prion Early Detection Science℠ will, at the very least, provide you with peace of mind. If it helps you to safeguard your future, it is even better!
The Future Beyond Testing
Testing in the past has left a lot to be desired. A diagnosis still relies heavily on clinical observation. There hasn’t been a reliable way to screen a person who is asymptomatic.
Even having a family history of these diseases does not mean that you will develop it.
For patients showing the earliest signs of possible cognitive decline, referred to as Minimal Cognitive Impairment (MCI), the majority of these patients do not progress to Alzheimer’s after 5 years of follow up. Many of these patients do not progress at all while others may show some improvement over time. However, those with true Alzheimer’s will continue to progress to more severe cognitive impairment. This is a key decision point where a definitive biomarker testing 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.
Our goal at Amprion is to make early testing a reality. Our Prion Detection Testing measures the rogue proteins, using either spinal tap or blood to diagnose Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. We help you find the information you need so that you can seek out the right therapies to protect your future at the earliest.
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
GET UPDATES ON TESTING AVAILABILTY,
BRAIN HEALTH INFO AND FOLLOW AMPRION’S PROGRESS.