A simple blood test can detect early the accumulation of the beta-amyloid toxic protein, which is associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain. The international scientific community has described achievement as an important and promising step in order to finally have a blood test for the diagnosis of dementia.
The first test trials in 373 people aged 60 to 90 years (some healthy, some with mild cognitive decline and some with initial Alzheimer’s) showed that it had an accuracy of at least 90%. However, the test is still in its infancy and will need further testing for more people and longer time before it is clinically exploited.
Researchers, led by molecular biologist Katsuchko Yanagisawa and Japanese Nobel Prize Coachie Tanaka, who published in Nature, according to the BBC and Nature, said the test could identify the people who are most at risk of dementia.
For at least 15 years, scientists are struggling to develop blood tests that will predict Alzheimer’s. The new, under development test, is considered to be the most promising effort so far, as it can catch the increase in beta amyloid before the worst Alzheimer’s symptom, such as memory impairment, according to the Athenian News Agency.
Scientists have not come to a conclusion whether β-amyloid is the cause or effect of the disease. In any case, however, his presence is related to Alzheimer’s.
“By the age of 60 to 70, about 30% of people show signs of increasing this protein in their brains and this can now be detected with the new blood test,” said one of the researchers, Professor Collin Masters of the Florida Institute of Melbourne. He predicted that in five years people after the age of 55 or 60 would test the five-year regular check-ups to see if they were at risk of Alzheimer’s.
Hitherto annoying neurodegenerative disease begins slowly to develop, even 30 years before the first visible symptoms occur. It is hoped that the new test will encourage the development of new, more effective drugs as all clinical trials have failed so far and several companies have abandoned their efforts. But if the test detects individuals at an early stage rather than advanced with irreversible brain damage, then tests may be more effective in the future.
In addition, the new test will warn early on those in a high-risk group to change their lifestyle, making eating healthier, more physical and cognitive, etc. to prevent as much as possible the destruction of their brain cells.
Currently, the accumulation of toxic protein can be detected by imaging techniques (PET positron emission tomography) or by spinal cord cerebral spinal fluid analysis. Both of these methods are more expensive, more invasive, less practical, and do not make such a quick and timely diagnosis.