Though some degree of cognitive decline has always been seen as an inevitable aspect of aging, the ominous rise of Alzheimer's disease has many people in Houston worried about every little lapse in recollection as they get older. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that one in eight older Americans suffer from this condition, and though we are coming to understand its machinations more everyday, there is still no cure in sight. However, researchers from the University of Florida have made a substantial breakthrough that may at least aid in the detection of this disease in its early stages.
University of Florida graduate student Jennifer Stamps reportedly came up with an idea for a new diagnostic test while shadowing a neurology professor at his clinic. A university press release states that Stamps questioned why patients where not being tested for their sense of smell, since this ability is one of the first to be affected when dementia starts to set in. From there, Stamps singled out a pungent and affordable substance – peanut butter – that could help shed light on the function of a patient's olfactory nerves.
"At the moment, we can use this test to confirm diagnosis," Stamps said of the new exam, which involves just peanut butter and a ruler. "But we plan to study patients with mild cognitive impairment to see if this test might be used to predict which patients are going to get Alzheimer's disease."
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