LivingThey develop a blood test to predict Alzheimer's

They develop a blood test to predict Alzheimer's

Millions of people in the world suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. It manifests itself through a very significant memory loss, going through different psychic processes, until the affected person loses awareness of himself and those around him.

Although the causes of this complex are not defined, scientists are increasingly understanding complex chemical processes within neurons. The neuronal damage of Alzheimer’s is related to the accumulation of certain substances: amyloid proteins.

Now scientists in Japan and Australia have developed a blood test that can identify people who have high levels of these proteins. So far, there is no effective treatment to stop Alzheimer’s, but this could begin to change: the new analysis would be decisive to find therapies that stop the progression of neuronal damage.

The test identifies people whose brains have high levels of amyloid proteins, which, as we have seen, are key to Alzheimer’s disease and which can cause or be a symptom of dementia.

In addition, the researchers hope that drug developers can use the test to bring together individuals with dementia when developing clinical trials before irreversible damage to the brain occurs.

Diagnosis decades in advance

People could know if they are at risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s or some type of dementia decades in advance, thanks to this analysis, since it would identify abnormal accumulations of amyloid proteins, and this would allow to be able to stop the advance, before there is a irreversible neuronal damage.

Scientists around the world have been searching for a blood test like this for the past 15 years – until now, there was no way to identify people with the early stages of dementia.

To measure the levels of amyloid proteins in blood samples, the scientists combined two existing techniques: immunoprecipitation and mass spectroscopy.

Their results matched those obtained through brain imaging and spinal cord fluid analysis in two separate cohorts involving 121 people in Japan and 252 people in Australia.

Each cohort included individuals aged between 60 and 90 years. Some of the participants were healthy; others showed slight deterioration in their cognitive abilities; and others suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

However, more studies are still needed to determine the exact precision of this analysis. If fully effective, the test could help not only find an effective dementia treatment, but also lead to more reliable clinical trials.

In fact, the researchers note that the analysis “is easy to do and cheap.”

Image: accumulated amyloid protein plaques in neurons / iStock.


References: Akinori Nakamura, Naoki Kaneko, Victor L. Villemagne, Takashi Kato, James Doecke, Vincent Doré, Chris Fowler, Qiao-Xin Li, Ralph Martins, Christopher Rowe, Taisuke Tomita, Katsumi Matsuzaki, Kenji Ishii, Kazunari Ishii, Yutaka Arahata , Shinichi Iwamoto, Kengo Ito, Koichi Tanaka, Colin L. Masters & Katsuhiko Yanagisawa ‘High performance plasma amyloid-β biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease’. Nature (2018). Doi: 10.1038 / nature25456.

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