Smell test could help spot brain diseases such as schizophrenia

Schizophrenia Update, February 2004

"Brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and schizophrenia are difficult to diagnose in their earliest stages. Even now if you had access to the most sophisticated modern brain-scanning techniques, your chances of detecting the diagnosis early in the disease process are remote today." suggested a recent article in the Scottsman Newspaper. This is a extremely unfortunate because the earlier you can detect illnesses of this type and start treatment, the better the prognosis is, suggests recent research.

"But now the latest medical research promises a breakthrough which might mean anyone, not just doctors, could spot the earliest signs of these serious illnesses using something as low-tech as a simple test of your ability to smell." and furthermore that "The very latest medical research has established that a deficiency in the sense of smell is not only seen very early in the course of schizophrenia, it is also strongly associated with the eventual duration of the illness. So using smell as an early test for schizophrenia cannot only predict the onset of the disease but also how severe it's going to be. It seems the worse your inability to smell the longer you are going to suffer from schizophrenia."

We think that this is going to be a very important new development when these tests are finally made available. Any company working on this would have the chance to be a very large and successful business - with over 25 million people in the world estimated to have schizophrenia (and perhaps double or triple that many that have related illnesses that are difficult to diagnose with a high level of certainty). While they have been talking about this test for years now - I hope they're finally getting closer to reality.

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For an earlier report on the research leading to the smell test, see Smell Test 'Spots Schizophrenia' in the December 03 newsletter edition.



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