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Visual Test Diagnosis 38

Posted by Hemos
from the testing-the-branes dept.
d'alz writes "A new research states that Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia can now be defined by a visual test based on images of faces and scenes. Research indicates that when people were asked to pick 'the odd on out' from a set of pictures of scenes and faces, those suffering from Alzheimer had difficulty picking out the odd scene. On the other hand those with semantic dementia had a problem with the faces. From the article: The findings, reported in the Journal of Neuroscience, support earlier research which suggested that different areas in a region of the brain called the Medial Temporal Lobe could be responsible for various aspects of memory and perception."
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Visual Test Diagnosis

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:42AM (#15299889) Journal
    This story might seem insignificant but what you don't realize is that Alzheimer's is a growing problem [nih.gov]. Like many things, as the baby boomers begin to retire it will increase. People are living longer and, as a result, the genes responsible for Alzheimer's are being exposed. When evolution shaped us, there was no way to naturally select genes that didn't have Alzheimer's traits as our species was most likely dead by the time we hit that age.

    As I understand it, Alzheimer's is caused by a twisted or malformed protein (beta amyloid) that starts to cause synapses of the brain to clump too close or cause their dendrites not to touch other synapses. Resulting in huge cognitive problems. There has also been research [fasebj.org] linking it to lipids and cholesterol intake.

    What makes this research interesting is that I believe the idea in the field was that the gene mutation could be virus induced or suspected to not begin until one cell grew with the characteristics and successfully multiplied (often later in life). I'm not a medical researcher so don't quote me on any of this.

    Unfortunately, since many of these baby boomers are fairly wealthy, more research will be going into Alzheimer's disease than AIDS as it will most likely be easier to market in developed nations. You can call me a conspiracy theorist but that's my honest opinion. Michael Chrichton pointed it out in Jarrasic Park when the park was built instead of something more useful like a cure for AIDS. You can charge people whatever you want to see dinosaurs but you can't charge them whatever you want to save their lives, it just looks immoral to do so.

    Gene research is often the most politically frowned upon form of medical research but necessity breeds innovation ... er ... understanding. It will be interesting to see how far stem cell research and the like are allowed to proceed given a vast aging population in the United States. Currently, I've seen Alzheimer's research being done in the form of mammalian brain tissue introduced to a herpes virus that has previously infected cells which had the Alzheimer's gene. They then infect the new brain tissue but do not kill it (as herpes is not normally lethal to cells).
    • Though to be quite blunt, AIDS can be curbed with appropriate behavioral changes. Education and community outreach are far cheaper than medical research in this area.

      Alzheimers, on the other hand, cannot be curbed by behavior modification. It strikes due to built-in deficiencies in our genetic code (at least according to some research). Therefore it is more useful to search for a cure or treatment for this than for another disease which can be minimized without having to resort to expensive medical resea
      • it's in all our interests to make sure both the geezers and the gays get better.

        Aids is not a gay problem [4woman.gov] it's a problem for people of all sexualities.
        • While I don't disagree that AIDS is a threat to all sexualities, I would like to point out that the percentage of gay males exhibiting symptoms of AIDS is greater than 57% discounting IV drug usage and gay sex+drug usage.

          http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/basic.h tm [cdc.gov]

          Gay males, being a very small minority in this country have a disproportionate rate of infection. It's like when you have California with a 7% population of Blacks incarcerating them at a rate of 32% of the total prison population. Some
          • Sorry, I said that incorrectly.

            The percentage of 2004 AIDS infectees which were gay is over 57%. I did not mean to imply that 57% of all gays were infected with AIDS.
          • Well, your focus is a bit too heavy on the developed countries here. I suggest you look at the world wide numbers, which are dominated by the HIV infections in Africa and Asia. In this larger context it is not by any means a specific problem of homosexual communities.
          • No - your post is completely wrong & based around the assumption that America=The World.

            It's like when you have California with a 7% population of Blacks incarcerating them at a rate of 32% of the total prison population. Something is definitely askew.

            *snort* You truly live up to your nickname.
            • Sorry, that's an assumption you read into my post.

              My post is absolutely backed up by the numbers. What happens in the rest of the world is a tragedy, but priorities at home must take precedence over issues elsewhere.

              If we can control the spread of a disease more effectively and cheaply with education than with medicine, it behooves us to do so in addition to searching for the cure. However, this is all off-topic as we were originally discussing Alzheimers (lest you forget) and not AIDS.
              • Sorry, that's an assumption you read into my post.

                Nope. If your going to make statements like:

                I would like to point out that the percentage of gay males exhibiting symptoms of AIDS is greater than 57% discounting IV drug usage and gay sex+drug usage.

                instead of:

                I would like to point out that the percentage of gay males in the US exhibiting symptoms of AIDS is greater than 57% discounting IV drug usage and gay sex+drug usage.

                Then you must back up your statements with worldwide statistics, rather then US-only

          • To quote the late Sam Kinison, may he RIP....

            "What about AIDS? Aren't you afraid of it? Aren't you scared? Heterosexuals die from it, too!"

            "name ONE! NAME ONE FUCKING HETEROSEXUAL PERSON DYING OF AIDS! Yeah, they're just dropping like FLIES, aren't they?" ....

            yeah, it's not quite that uncommon, but it is still pretty uncommon.
      • Though to be quite blunt, AIDS can be curbed with appropriate behavioral changes.

        And this is supposed to make addressing it easier?

        We'll be dealing with an HIV problem as big or bigger than it is now, long after we've made serious inroads against Alzheimer's.
    • I don't see gene therapy as the most promising path towards a cure for Alzheimer's disease. First of all, as with most neurodegenerative diseases, the cause of disease is poorly understood and not necessarily purely genetic - in fact, in most cases, I suspect a strong environmental influence, as well as a certain number of "spontaneous" cases caused by stochastic conformational events.
      So, we are in fact dealing with a multitude of causes, making a causal therapy like gene therapy an unlikely candidate. I r
      • My money is on it being a prion disease related to CJD. The meat industry probably doesn't want you to know...
        • Don't think so - I work in prion research. It is somewhat similar with regard to the basic mechanism, but there is no indication that Alzheimer's is transmissible.
          • Don't they have a genetic link to early-onset Alzheimer's -- a rare form that affects people quite rapidly when it hits in early 40's?
          • I'll take your word for it, but for curiosity's sake- If it were a prion disease, how would it get transmitted, besides contaminated food? And if it were being transmitted by something else, how would one be able to find out what it was if it takes years or decades for the effects to be seen?
            • Well, prion diseases are rather unique as they have three possible etiologies - transmitted, genetic and spontaneuos. Transmission can happen by ingestion of contaminated food, by surgery, especially neurosurgery and perhaps - this is not conclusively shown yet - via the mucous membranes. Genetic is clear - some gene defects facilitate the misfolding of the native form of the prion. Lastly you got the spontaneuos forms, where, with low probability, the healthy form of the prion protein spontaneously misfold
              • Interesting- thanks for taking the time to increase my knowledge. Perhaps I've had just enough information to make me worry about it and not enough to know better. I wonder if this is also the case with other prion thoughts- It's not the only reason that I avoid meat, but the thought really does bother me that, given (what I understand to be) the US's lousy meat inspection and meat industry practices (like feeding downed animals to healthy ones), there's a possibility that livestock nationwide could get sil
                • I wouldn't be too worried - that was basically the situation in the UK during the BSE epidemic. But, then again, the oral, inter-species infectivity of BSE is low. For hundreds of thousands of infected cows that were ultimately consumed by humans, we have a total of slightly above 100 vCJD cases - and the numbers won't rise significantly, by all projections.
    • People are living longer and, as a result, the genes responsible for Alzheimer's are being exposed. When evolution shaped us, there was no way to naturally select genes that didn't have Alzheimer's traits as our species was most likely dead by the time we hit that age.

      Neither now evolution can select us in what concerns Alzheimer's. For the most general type of Alzheimer's disease the effects don't start showing up before being 60 years old and by then you surely have spread your genes. By then, there is

  • Research indicates that when people were asked to pick 'the odd on out' from a set of pictures of scenes and faces,


    I ask slashdot readers to choose the odd one out from the 'also on Reuters' pics/links at the bottom of the linked article.

    Mirror of images can be found here [googlepages.com]

    (I'm going, as always with Bill Gates)
  • by XO (250276) <blade@eric.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:10AM (#15299964) Homepage Journal
    like this [liquidgeneration.com]?
  • by HaydnH (877214)
    Does anyone else wonder why the links of some blurbs are where they are? For example, why put the link on "visual test" when that link points to an article about the test, not the actual test... it really annoys me.

    Oh and before you ask I do usualy have problems with my faeces.
    • by tka (548076)
      Heh, I just about to write that hands up all of those who were ready to make test when they clicked on the link. So, yes, you're not the only one.
    • Actually, I would like access to the test. As a family, we have been through all the drill with neurologist visits and consultations and the drug therapies that are supposed to help and the uncertain could-be-this could-be-that. Someone please point me to those pictures -- I would like to administer the test myself to generate leads for the next doctor visit.

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