Nose Exam Could Offer Early Alzheimer's Diagnosis

German scientists developing new detection method
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2011 5:15 AM CST
Nose Exam Could Offer Early Alzheimer's Diagnosis
A new method for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease involves looking up a patient's nose.   (Shutterstock)

German scientists think they’ve found a new way to detect Alzheimer’s years before a patient starts showing symptoms … and it involves looking up your nose. Chemists and pathologists at the Technical University of Darmstadt are developing a method to test the nasal mucous membrane for tau protein, which kills brain cells and can cause dementia. Tau protein deposits can be detected in the brain and eyes using fluorescent dye, and previously retina scans were used, but researchers say the nose test will likely be more comfortable and more accurate.

“The more tau deposits we found in the noses of patients, the worse the brain structure was hit,” a scientist explains. Earlier diagnosis would allow patients more time to attempt to slow the development of the disease, the Local notes. One researcher involved imagines the test could take the form of a nose spray or tablet, followed by a doctor examining the nose with a light. Click for more recent news on Alzheimer’s, which could be contagious. (More Alzheimer's disease stories.)

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