Test to detect Alzheimer’s eight years before symptoms appear

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Researchers have developed a new blood test that could detect Alzheimer’s disease in individuals eight years before clinical symptoms became apparent.

One of the major problems with treating Alzheimer’s disease is that by the time symptoms develop, serious changes to the brain have already taken place.

Currently, there is no simple way to detect if an individual is developing the condition.

The only reliable methods of diagnosis are positron emission tomography (PET) brain scans, which are time-consuming and expensive, and the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) collected by a lumbar puncture, which is painful and invasive.

German researchers, however, believe they have found the key to detecting Alzheimer’s disease early through a minimally invasive blood test.

One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is an abnormal build-up of amyloid-beta plaques in the brain.

Amyloid-beta is present in the healthy brain, but in individuals with Alzheimer’s, the protein folds incorrectly and accumulates.

Amyloid plaques can begin developing 15–20 years before symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear.

The new blood test extracts all amyloid-beta from a blood sample and the researchers, using infrared light, are then able to measure the relative levels of healthy and unhealthy protein.

The researchers assessed blood samples from 874 individuals, 65 of whom later went on to develop Alzheimer’s disease and 809 who didn’t. The research team correctly diagnosed 70 per cent of those who would go on to develop Alzheimer’s and wrongly predicted that nine per cent of the 809 healthy samples would develop the disease. Overall, the diagnostic accuracy was 86 per cent.

What do you think? Does early detection give you hope that scientists are close to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s? What would you do if you were diagnosed as being likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease eight years down the track?

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Written by Ben

16 Comments

Total Comments: 16
  1. 0
    0

    So what can you do to prevent it if the blood test shows positive?

  2. 0
    0

    Yes, I’d like to know that too, not much medically I reckon, just gives you time to put your house in order, but the thought of knowing that, hanging over your head for years could make your last good years very stressful and unhappy…think I would rather be an ostrich…

  3. 0
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    Oh darn if you are one of those wrongly predicted to get it .. what a weight to have to bear and does that make it more likely that someone may choose to end their life rather than face that diagnosis coming to fruition? Until they can diagnose with more accuracy then best left alone especially as there are no positive outcomes in the way of halting the disease or slowing it down appreciatively.

  4. 0
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    Oh darn if you are one of those wrongly predicted to get it .. what a weight to have to bear and does that make it more likely that someone may choose to end their life rather than face that diagnosis coming to fruition? Until they can diagnose with more accuracy then best left alone especially as there are no positive outcomes in the way of halting the disease or slowing it down appreciatively.

  5. 0
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    Please, please, NO more tests to tell us that we are going to get Alzheimer disease in later years, until there is effective treatment to stop the onset of the dementia. As far as I know, effective preventive treatment remains elusive. The researchers seem to be putting their energies in the wrong direction.

  6. 0
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    A blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s is an indicator of research towards curing it. There are increasing medical strides towards delaying the advance of the disease, and the sooner a prospective patient starts on such medications, the better. Search the phrase: “delaying Alzheimer’s” to see what is already available. This new blood test could speed up access to such other medications.
    My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 17 years ago, and is still lingering on in her own oblivion. I already have it hanging over my head, and would like to know the likelihood of NOT having it. I agree with ‘Nan Norma’ that it would give me a chance to get my life in order by downsizing and making arrangements for my wife after I’ve lost competence. Also, I would try harder to cross off more items on my bucket list.

  7. 0
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    Is this article about Alzheimer’s Disease or Senile Dementia?
    They are not the same thing, Alzheimer’s is an early onset senile dementia which comes on in late 40s or early 50s and is always a fatal disease and Senile dementia comes on much later in life and people die with it not from it.

  8. 0
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    Yes, my thoughts exactly. Not much good if there are no preventative measures or cures available.I’m supposed to be taking part in a research trial for Dementia/Alzheimer’s here in Adelaide, but as it is pretty intensive time wise, and runs over 4 years, I’ll probably say no.

  9. 0
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    Yes, my thoughts exactly. Not much good if there are no preventative measures or cures available.I’m supposed to be taking part in a research trial for Dementia/Alzheimer’s here in Adelaide, but as it is pretty intensive time wise, and runs over 4 years, I’ll probably say no.

  10. 0
    0

    I wonder why some posts are repeated, does anyone know?

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