Alzheimer’s disease: Simple blood test may detect risk of condition before symptoms appear

Alzheimer's: Dr Chris discusses the early signs of condition

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

In the UK, around 920,000 people have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia – a figure predicted to rise to two million by 2050. A new test to detect a person’s risk of the disease before symptoms even develop will be a cheaper and more accessible alternative to currently available diagnostic tools, researchers say.

To diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, costly PET scans are used to detect amyloid beta or invasive spinal tap procedures.

Now, a simple blood test is all that is needed to help diagnose the brain condition long before symptoms even begin developing.

The blood test measures the amount of toxic protein is present which is linked to the memory-robbing disease.

Dr Kevin Sullinvan, lead author of the study from Mississippi University said of the discovery: “Right now we look at levels in the central nervous system as a biomarker of Alzheimer’s.

“But the only way to do that is through brain scans or looking at the cerebrospinal fluid via a lumbar puncture.

“These new results suggest there is utility in using simple blood draws that would be less expensive and much less invasive for people.”

This new discovery could enable early detection of the leading neurodegenerative disease—perhaps decades before the onset of the first symptoms.

Before when a person complains about symptoms of forgetfulness becoming more frequent a number of factors come into play.

From normal ageing, having a reduced blood flow to the brain or early onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Advances in technologies to detect early signs of disease from a blood sample are helping doctors to identify the memory-robbing disorder more accurately and to screen participants more quickly.

In the study, 2,284 men and women in the US with an average age of 59 were tracked for 25 years.

Blood samples were analysed at the start, the midlife test, and then again in late life, when they were about 77.

The participants did not have problems with memory or thinking skills at the outset.

Mental tests showed 502 and 832 went on to develop dementia and MCI, respectively.

The US team looked at two types of amyloid beta, known as AB42 and AB40 and the ratio between the two.

Dr Sullivan explained: “A doubling of this ratio under this threshold at midlife was associated with a 37 percent lower risk of MCI or dementia, which is comparable to about five years of younger age, and a doubling of this ratio under this threshold at late life was comparable to about three years younger age.”

The study which was published in the journal Neurology, took into account age, education and cardiovascular risk factors.

It found that as the brain engages in daily tasks, it continually produces and clears away amyloid beta – which can stop brain cells functioning properly.

Some is washed into the blood, and some floats in the cerebrospinal fluid, which is why spinal taps are used.

If the protein starts building up, it can collect into plaques that stick to neurons, triggering permanent damage and increasing a person’s likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s.
Source: Read Full Article