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New Alzheimer’s test could detect disease decades earlier: A call to steward God’s image

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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New Alzheimer's test could detect disease decades earlier
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A newly developed blood test is showing real promise in identifying signs of Alzheimer’s disease as much as twenty years before symptoms become noticeable. The test could be available for widespread use in two to three years, though doctors warn that detection is not the same as a cure.

However, the test could still be an important step in that direction.

One of the main reasons why this development is great news is that accurately and expediently identifying patients to study has long been a limiting factor in existing research for both understanding the disease and working toward a cure. The hope is that by increasing the pool of people who could help with such studies, scientists can make greater strides in finding treatments to help those struggling with the associated memory loss and cognitive degeneration.

Considering that nearly six million people in the United States, and around thirty million worldwide, suffer from the disease, finding better solutions could help a lot of people. That those numbers are expected to double by 2050 only increases the importance of the research.

Few diseases are more insidious than Alzheimer’s. While cancer, for example, can require painful and debilitating treatments that come with no guarantees of success—something I’ve experienced firsthand as a cancer survivor—Alzheimer’s and others like it rob you of life long before they bring about your death. They leave people trapped inside their bodies with just enough understanding that something’s wrong to make the inability to grasp what’s been lost utterly infuriating.

A call to steward God’s image

While no disease could ever fully remove the image of God with which every person was created, Alzheimer’s perhaps comes closest when you consider that what we mirror of the divine is less about physical presence than the capacity to shape and steward the world around us.

In light of that reality, I want to challenge us to do two things today.

The first is to take some time and really pray that God will help guide those researching Alzheimer’s to find effective treatments and cures for the disease.

Whatever role the new blood test might play in those efforts, if all it does is serve as a reminder to pray, and pray continually, then it’s already been a success.

The second challenge is to steward God’s image well in whatever ways he has called you to do so.

The Lord has entrusted each of us with a small slice of his creation and tasked us with helping it to look a little more like heaven. However, none of us know exactly how long we’ll have to cultivate our portion of the garden before we lose the capacity or opportunity to do so. As a result, how we choose to use the time we have is of the utmost importance.

Each day we make our slice of creation look more like heaven or hell through the choices we make.

What will yours look like by tonight?

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