Australian researchers have worked out how to detect Alzheimer's disease 20 years before symptoms set in.
A Sydney team has developed an eye test which exposes higher levels of beta-amyloid protein, found in dementia patients.
A new $250,000 camera checks for Alzheimer's in a 20-minute test, replacing the need for costly brain scans. It also means patients could be diagnosed and treated well before the first signs of memory loss.
Macquarie University Professor Ralph Martins says it's a breakthrough.
"By getting in early before the brain has been severely damaged you're going to see the best chance of success and as we speak now and as a result of the study there are now major prevention drug trials along that path."
A research trial on 200 men begins in Australia this year. Mr Martins and his team are optimistic.
"All trials in the past have failed because it is too little, too late, the brain has been badly ravaged by Alzheimer's," Mr Martins says. "The new approach now is to do these trials much earlier,"
During the trial, Prof Martins will reduce the levels of the protein with testosterone, boosting the hormone with fish oil and curcumin, found in turmeric.
"It's most certainly a game changer, we are moving into the realm of early diagnosis and looking at prevention that would allow us to test different prevention approaches for Alzheimer's," Mr Martins says.