Scientists said Monday they had developed a way to predict whether patients would develop Alzheimer’s disease by testing their blood, which experts saw as a potential “game changer” in the fight against debilitating conditions.
About 50 million people live with Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain disease that accounts for more than half of all dementia cases worldwide.
Although its exact mechanism has not been fully understood, Alzheimer’s disease results from the build-up of proteins in the brain that are believed to cause neuron death.
Some of these proteins are found in the blood of patients and tests based on their concentrations can be used to diagnose the disease.
Swedish and British scientists believe blood tests can be used to estimate Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms appear.
In the journal Nature Aging, he described how he developed and validated individual risk models based on the levels of two major proteins in blood samples taken from more than 550 patients with small cognitive defects.
The model based on these two proteins had an 88% success rate in predicting the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in the same patients over a four-year period.
He said that when more research is needed, his prediction method could have a significant impact on Alzheimer’s cases, noting that “plasma biomarkers” from blood tests are “promising” due to their high penetration and their low cost.
Richard Oakley, head of research for the Alzheimer’s Society, said the main battle in the battle against the disease is to diagnose cases long enough to interfere with experimental treatment.
“If these blood biomarkers can predict Alzheimer’s disease in larger and more diverse groups, then we can see a revolution in how we test new drugs for dementia,” he said.
Musad Hussain, professor of neurology at the University of Oxford, described Monday’s research as a “potential game changer”.
“For the first time, we have a blood test that can properly estimate the risk of further development of Alzheimer’s disease in people with mild cognitive symptoms,” said Hussain, who was not involved in the study. .
“We need more validation (of the results), but in the context of other recent findings, this could be a transformative step towards earlier diagnosis, as well as testing new treatments in the early stages of the disease.”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)