Although it's the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer's disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose. When confronted with a confused and forgetful patient, a doctor must first rule out other brain disorders by putting the patient through a battery of psychological tests, brain scans, and various health assessments. The diagnosis can take months.
In search of a more precise diagnostic tool, researchers have been looking for signs of the disease in people's spinal fluid.
In the September Archives of Neurology, a Swiss team reports that spinal-fluid concentrations of forms of two compounds already linked to the disease–tau protein and beta-amyloid peptide–may reveal whether a person has Alzheimer's disease.