Researchers from the University of Florida have found a new, inexpensive way to confirm the presence of Alzheimer's disease. According to the report published on the university's website on Oct. 8, findings indicate that a little bit of peanut butter and a ruler and confirm an early Alzheimer's diagnosis
A grad student, Jennifer Stamps, first came up with the idea when she notices that patients weren't being tested for their sense of smell. The report notes that the first cranial nerve is one of the first things to be affected by the onset of Alzheimer's and the ability to smell is associated with that nerve.
To test whether a patient could detect the scene of peanut butter, the patient closed their eyes, mouth and blocked one nostril. A clinician would hold a peanut butter container open under the open nostril and move it higher to that nostril until the patient could detect the scent. The number of centimeters the container was raised was recorded. After a delay of a minute and a half, the test was done on the other nostril.
Patients being tested were in for initial testing, so doctors did not know beforehand if the patients have Alzheimer's or not. It was found that patients with early stages of dementia showed smell impairment in the left nostril. Other forms of dementia did not display this trait.
Only 24 patients were tested, so the method does need more testing. However, Stamps says that for now, the method can be used to confirm a diagnosis.