Pravat K. Mandal of the National Brain Research Center in Gurgaon, India, and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues studied the brains of normal controls, Alzheimer's disease patients and patients with mild cognitive impairment, using multivoxel 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) imaging, along with an advanced analytical tool, to assess brain chemistry in the hippocampal regions.
They observed during the course of their study that the left hippocampus -- the part of the brain that deals with short-term memory and long-term memory -- becomes alkaline in Alzheimer's disease patients, in contrast to the normal aging process in which the brain tends to be more acidic.
"Alzheimer's disease has become a silent tsunami in the aging population," Mandal said in a statement. "This discovery of a diagnostic technique that requires no blood work or radiation, and that can be conducted in less than 15 minutes, might offer hope to Alzheimer's disease patients and their families."
Mandal and colleagues plan to conduct longitudinal studies with Alzheimer and Parkinson patients with larger sample sizes to investigate specificity of their test.
The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.