A study published in Archives of Neurology reports that a new spinal fluid test can predict with 100 percent accuracy those patients suffering memory loss who will eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease.

This breakthrough offers new hope to victims of the disease and their families, who heretofore could only know for sure that Alzheimer’s was the cause of their suffering after an autopsy was performed.

Today, experts believe Alzheimer’s begins years before the first symptoms appear; by that point, the brain has already been damaged. This new test will identify those in the earliest stages of the disease so that the efficacy of new drugs that could slow or stop the disease may be studied.

The new test joins PET scans, already in use, which reveal the amyloid plaques characteristic of the disease. The belief is that in time new medications will be developed that will halt or perhaps even reverse the agonizing disease, which destroys a patient’s ability to reason and remember.