(Mirror Daily, United States) – Few diseases are more costly than Alzheimer’s – both on a financial and an emotional level. With the cost of the disease’s care in the US alone rising to $226 billion last year, researchers are working on a way to solve the horrible affliction. In a study from Philadelphia, a team of researchers developed a possible urine test for detecting Alzheimer’s.
The study, developed by a team of researchers from Philadelphia, the National Wildlife Research Center and the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, focused on developing a way to test for Alzheimer’s based on the smell of the patient’s urine.
As a first step, the researchers took a number of mice and genetically altered them so that they show signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Some mice even showed signs of changes in their brains associated with the onset of dementia, while others didn’t.
What the researchers first did after genetically altering the mice, in order to confirm their theories, was to put the mice back in containment with a number of their non-genetically modified brethren.
As it turns out, the non-genetically modified mice seemed to be able to detect when a fellow captive showed signs of Alzheimer’s, even if the genetically altered mouse didn’t show any brain changes yet.
Additionally, the researchers were able to point out that the mice seemed to identify the afflicted rats by the smell of their urine.
In the wake of their discovery, the team researchers then employed the use of mass spectrometry in order to compare the different chemical compositions of the two types of urine. Indeed, the mice seemed to falter much longer smelling the urine of their diseased brethren.
The idea to perform the study came as a result of the fact that animals are usually good at identifying illnesses, usually due to the chemical changes our bodies go through when we are sick.
Despite the fact that the most recent tests for Alzheimer’s disease in humans are not very precise, mostly due to the fact that the specific errant proteins associated with it aren’t detectable until having deposits in the brain, it would seem like the new technique might have some merits.
However, despite the so far promising start, the researchers advise not to hold your breath for the creation of an accurate Alzheimer’s detecting test.
The main problems are that trials on mice usually don’t stand up very well when applied to humans, and that the complexity of the disease might require the scientists to start over from scratch.
Image source: Pixabay
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