“Alzheimer’s disease begins altering the brain long before it affects memory and thinking.

So scientists are developing a range of tests to detect these changes in the brain, which include an increase in toxic proteins, inflammation and damage to the connections between brain cells.

The tests rely on biomarkers, shorthand for biological markers, that signal steps along the progression of disease. These new tests are already making Alzheimer’s diagnosis more accurate, and helping pharmaceutical companies test new drugs.

“For the future, we hope that we might be able to use these biomarkers in order to stop or delay the memory changes from ever happening,” says Maria Carrillo, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association. (The association is a recent NPR sponsor.)”

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