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Know What's Coming

Researchers say the new test to diagnose Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a "game-changer," NPR reports.

"Technologically, it's a major new paradigm for testing protein misfolding," Jiri Safar from Case Western Reserve University tells NPR.

Researchers from Italy and the US recently reported that their real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) assay could detect disease-specific prion proteins from either cerebrospinal fluid or olfactory mucosa samples. NPR notes that while this test can take upwards of 90 hours, it's an improvement over diagnosing at autopsy, which is common for many protein-folding diseases.

For Kay Schwister, being diagnosed earlier meant that she could spend time with family and friends, it adds, even if the course of her disease was set. "Every day, it was nonstop," Tim Schwister, her husband, tells NPR. "People that were there to visit with her, just to try to keep her spirits up."

Researchers are also trying to develop similar protein-based tests for Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, it adds. "If you have early onset dementia, do you really want to spend the last few years of your life working, or do you want to take early retirement?" adds Alison Green from the University of Edinburgh.