Blood test detects proteins linked to Alzheimer's disease

Bloodstream

Blood test detects proteins linked to Alzheimer's disease

"If (it) can be repeated in a larger number of people, this test will give us an insight into changes occurring in the brain that relate to Alzheimer's disease", said Mark Dallas, a lecturer in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience at Britain's University of Reading.

One of the big challenges now facing many Alzheimer's researchers is the difficulty in diagnosing the disease during its early, preclinical stages.

Using high-tech mass spectrometry technology, known as IP-MS, scientists identified patients with the rogue peptide in their blood plasma, indicating a build-up of beta-amyloid in the brain, with 90 per cent accuracy.

The current methods for detecting amyloids-positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of the brain and measurement of the clumping protein amyloid-β in cerebrospinal fluid-are expensive and invasive.

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But the breakthrough by the University of Melbourne's Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health will mean diagnosing the disease will become far easier.

The idea behind the test is to predict the presence and levels of amyloid beta in a person's brain.

It can be detected with brain scans, but these are expensive and impractical.

This is why there is a huge amount of research into tests for Alzheimer's.

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"I can see in the future, five years from now, where people have a regular check-up every five years after age 55 or 60 to determine whether they are on the Alzheimer's pathway or not, " Professor Masters said. None of the three drugs now on the market treat the underlying disease.

However, it could be useful in clinical trials.

"This is not a blood test for dementia that people who are anxious about their memory and concentration should be asking their doctors about", said Rob Howard, professor of old age psychiatry at University College London, who was not involved in the study.

So while we don't have any effective singular treatment for Alzheimer's now, this blood test will hopefully speed up research by making clinical trials more effective.

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Alzheimer's disease affects over 5 million people in the United States, where the estimated cost of caring for Alzheimer patients in 2017 was $259 billion. "Due to the long time-spans involved, pharmaceutical companies require accurate predictions of who is most at risk".

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