Analyzing the levels of beta-amyloid and tau in the spinal fluid can help to confirm that Alzheimer’s is present when the disease is strongly suspected but there is something unusual, such as the individual being younger than age 65.
While researchers continue to study other potential targets for medication—including tau (a naturally occurring protein that is abnormally tangled in Alzheimer's), inflammation, and vascular issues (e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol problems)—there has been a simultaneous, strong focus on the impact of lifestyle factors in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s.
The fact that fasting and vigorous exercise are now linked to the cellular clean-up process which may be responsible for removal of excess proteins known to cause Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions could mean that the Harvard researchers have stumbled across a biological process which might explain why metabolic disorders are such a significant risk factor for developing neurodegenerative disease in the first place.
'It's like losing the one you love in slow motion.' Image: Supplied What began as difficulty knowing how to answer your phone and forgetting how to turn off your radio in the car when you visited me, has now developed into forgetting how to read a menu at a cafe and asking me the same questions over and over again in quick succession.
"The fact that we're seeing the blood vessels leaking, independent of tau and independent of amyloid, when people have cognitive [mental] impairment on a mild level, suggests it could be a totally separate process or a very early process," said study senior author Dr. Berislav Zlokovic.