This is amazing! We now have an easy to do at-home test to check for Alzheimer’s. I still can’t believe this is what they used to see if someone has it or not!
Alzheimer’s disease is tough to diagnose. The onset is gradual. Brain scans are often inconclusive. And by the time the disease is confirmed, it is too late to arrest its progression.
What exactly is Alzheimer’s?
It’s the most common form of dementia. Patients suffering from it experience short-term memory loss.
Alzheimer’s often starts with minor episodes of forgetfulness and can steadily progress to a stage where the patient is unable to recognise friends and family. The disease is highly traumatic, for both patient and caregiver.
Enter the Peanut Butter test
Jennifer Stamps recognised that the ability to smell is associated with the first cranial nerve or the olfactory nerve, which is basically responsible for our sense of smell.
And the first cranial nerve is, apparently, one of the first things to malfunction when a person’s cognition is on the decline.
Why peanut butter? Because she wanted something so inexpensive and accessible that it removed one of the significant challenges of Alzheimer’s research.
Stamps collaborated with a behavioural neurologist from University of Florida’s College of Medicine to devise the test. In it, she asked subjects to close their eyes and mouth and block one nostril. She then opened a peanut butter container and held a ruler next to the subject’s open nostril.
Patients in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease were found to have a pretty dramatic difference in their ability to detect odour between their two nostrils.
This could be a breakthrough
Obviously, more tests are needed before the test can be institutionalized – for the moment, Stamps and her collaborators are using the test to confirm diagnosis rather than predict it.
The scale of the Alzheimer’s problem
All disease benefits from early diagnosis. In Alzheimer’s it is virtually the only hope of living with normalcy – if it hits advanced stages, there’s no real cure.
A quick note from our founder:
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