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Scientists identify form of dementia similar to Alzheimer’s

Illinois residents who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s should know that misdiagnoses are not uncommon. A new report with contributions from scientists across the world has identified a type of dementia that mimics the symptoms of Alzheimer’s like memory loss and confusion. It is called LATE dementia with LATE standing for limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy.

Most people with dementia are diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s, yet research has shown that thousands of people are being mistakenly diagnosed with it. One reason is that most people with the symptoms mentioned above participate in clinical trials solely for Alzheimer’s. These trials test for the beta-amyloid protein that causes Alzheimer’s by forming plaque in the brain.

LATE dementia differs from Alzheimer’s in that its cause is the protein TDP-43. When this protein misfolds because of a mutation in the DNA that creates it, it begins to affect the brain. It can cause memory loss due to a shrinking of the hippocampus as well as language disorders caused by frontotemporal lobar degeneration.

Misfolded TDP-43 proteins have been found to be common in older adults. Among adults over 85, roughly a quarter have enough of these misfolded proteins to suffer from memory and cognitive impairment. Scientists say that further research may help in developing drugs that stop both LATE dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Since the existence of LATE dementia is a recent finding, a doctor cannot be faulted for any failure to diagnose it. However, there are any number of other cases where such a failure can be the result of negligence. It could be on the part of a doctor or nurse, and it might involve EHR errors, medication errors or other errors. Victims of negligence can file a medical malpractice claim, but they may wish to have legal representation before moving forward.