New test offers hope for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease
It seems like a new blood test can be useful for checking if some people are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
According to a Ruhr University Bochum-led study, the new blood test for Alzheimer’s disease can detect early indicators of the disease long before the first symptoms appear in patients. The blood test would, thus, offer an opportunity to identify those at risk and may thereby open the door to new avenues in drug discovery.
There is, as yet, no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. It is often argued that progress in drug research has been hampered by the fact that the disease can only be diagnosed when it is too late for an effective intervention. Alzheimer’s disease is thought to begin long before patients show typical symptoms like memory loss.
One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is the accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques in the patient’s brain.
The blood test, developed by Klaus Gerwert and his team worked by measuring the relative amounts of a pathological and a healthy form of amyloid-beta in the blood. The pathological form is a misfolded version of this molecule and known to initiate the formation of toxic plaques in the brain. Toxic amyloid-beta molecules start accumulating in the patients’ body 15-20 years before disease onset.
They found that the test reliably detected amyloid-beta alterations in the blood of participants with a mild cognitive impairment that also showed abnormal amyloid deposits in brain scans.
Currently available diagnostic tools for Alzheimer’s disease either involve expensive positron emission tomography (PET) brain scans or analyse samples of cerebrospinal fluid that are extracted via lumbar puncture.
The researchers suggested that their blood test served as a cheap and simple option to pre-select individuals from the general population for further testing by these more invasive and costly methods to exclude the falsely positive subjects.
The findings from the study are published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.
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