An international coalition of brain researchers is suggesting a new way of looking at Alzheimer’s.

Instead of defining the disease through symptoms like memory problems or fuzzy thinking, the scientists want to focus on biological changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s. These include the plaques and tangles that build up in the brains of people with the disease.

But they say the new approach is intended only for research studies and isn’t yet ready for use by most doctors who treat Alzheimer’s patients.

If the new approach is widely adopted, it would help researchers study patients whose brain function is still normal, but who are likely to develop dementia caused by Alzheimer’s.

“There is a stage of the disease where there are no symptoms and we need to have some sort of a marker,” says¬†Eliezer Masliah, who directs the Division of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging.

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