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Quicker diagnoses for diseases

TECNODaniel BuenoA non-invasive nasal test designed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and at Verona University in Italy will be able to provide highly accurate diagnoses for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a fatal and incurable neurodegenerative disorder. The disease is currently diagnosed by performing a biopsy on brain tissue sampled from living or deceased patients.  Among so-called human prion diseases, CJD is the most common, characterized by rapidly progressing dementia, gait disorder, rigid posture, epileptic fits, and a type of facial paralysis that leaves afflicted individuals with a “permanent smile.” Typical patients are 50 to 70 years old, and the disease can manifest itself in one of four ways. The most common, known as sporadic CJD, accounts for 85% of all cases and has an incidence rate of 0.5 to 1 case per million people per year. The new test uses a tiny brush, inserted into the nose, to collect olfactory neurons that are connected to the central nervous system. Tests completed using the new technique were able to correctly identify 30 out of 31 patients who had the disease, and came back negative for all 43 unaffected test subjects.