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A. Diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease Early

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers are one step closer to accurately diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease at an earlier stage. In a recent study led by Michael Weiner of the University of California, San Francisco, 90 percent of patients suspected of having the disease were correctly diagnosed using an MRI scan and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, or MRS.

Weiner: MRS is done with the same machine as an MRI is done, but instead of giving a picture of brain structure, it allows us to measure the chemicals in the brain and there's a specific chemical called n-acetyl aspartate, or NAA, an amino acid which is only in the nerve cells.

Narrator: When nerve cells die, NAA decreases and cause a loss of brain function.

Weiner: It would be very nice to have scientific measures which tell you about the nerve cells in the brain and whether they are dying off or not. And we think that MRS offers the best chance for that. but we're not there yet, but I'm hopeful.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.