Australian scientists make early dementia detection breakthrough

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Australian scientists have made a significant breakthrough in how early we may be able to discover the warning signs of dementia.

According to Dementia Australia, there are an estimated 459,000 Australians living with dementia and, once symptoms occur, they cannot be reversed.

This is why researchers have been exploring ways to diagnose the condition before it develops, which will then allow for medicines to be discovered to halt or prevent its progress.

Medical researchers at Flinders University, working in conjunction with a team at the University of Aberdeen, believe they may have now made an important breakthrough in that area.

In an innovative new study, the researchers discovered a marker in the blood that may point to the onset of dementia in future years.

The researchers investigated the role of the molecule asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), which is associated with cardiovascular disease, and looked for links to cognitive decline in an established cohort of human ageing (the 1936 Aberdeen Birth Cohort).

Unlike other human ageing study cohorts, the 1936 Aberdeen Birth Cohort participants also underwent childhood intelligence tests at age 11, a key predictor of intelligence and health in old age.

By measuring ADMA levels when the participants were 63 years old, the research team discovered high ADMA levels were associated with a decline in cognitive performance assessments after four years, explained Flinders University’s Professor Arduino Mangoni.

“Therefore, the results of this study suggest that ADMA, an easily measurable marker of atherosclerosis (arterial plaque build-up) and cardiovascular risk, could be an early indicator of cognitive decline in old age – and possibly dementia,” Prof. Mangoni said.

Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder characterised by a rapid decline in cognition and significant disability in old age, currently affects more than 342,000 Australians. This number is expected to increase to 400,000 in less than a decade.

The causes of late onset Alzheimer’s are largely unknown and despite extensive research, there is still no clear consensus on robust biomarkers to predict disease onset and progression and the response to therapies.

UK researcher Dr Deborah Malden says the results of the new study should be approached with caution and need further extensive investigations.

“We should be cautious about emphasising the results with the 93 participants’ results here,” she said.

“We would know much more after repeating this study in a large-scale cohort, potentially tens of thousands of individuals,” Dr Malden explained.

If the study findings are verified after large-scale testing, the researchers are hopeful it could pave the way for population-wide dementia risk assessment and development of medicinal strategies to reduce ADMA levels and slow the progression of cognitive decline in old age.

There are already proven animal studies and drug interventions that significantly reduce ADMA levels.

Do you think scientists will eventually be able to curb the number of dementia cases worldwide?

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Written by Ben

14 Comments

Total Comments: 14
  1. 0
    0

    Oh dear, I don’t really want an early warning thank you. I am concerned that it may happen to some degree and I don’t want to be given confirmation. Please let me know when a cure is found.

  2. 0
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    What’s the point of lauding a “breakthrough in detecting early signs of dementia” if nothing can be done about it anyway?! I agree with Horace – no point knowing if there’s no cure or ability to reverse those symptons.

    • 0
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      One step at a time Glucose. It’s good to know they are actually working on it. We can’t just stick our heads in the sand. I guess YLC are trying to give us hope. In the meantime eat good food, don’t drink alcohol, exercise regularly and play games that keep your brain working. All these things are connected to the gut and cardiovascular disease. And don’t forget to also cross your fingers.

    • 0
      0

      Glucose, – you can get your inheritance stuff etc. sorted as you see it now, – not when you lose some of your mind, and plan ahead to not always is everything going to remain the same.

  3. 0
    0

    Thanks to YLC for bringing us the latest scientific and medical studies.

  4. 0
    0

    This joins a long list of research projects claiming to detect dementia early. I am done with these “breakthroughs. Without being too negative, this is NOT what the community needs unless it is accompanied by a clear path to improved treatment at an early stage.

  5. 0
    0

    Don’t worry, the report on this research is nonsense even if the research isn’t.
    “a key predictor of intelligence and health in old age” really? Genetics, smoking, obesity, poverty, yes, but IQ as a predictor of health in old age? I don’t think so.
    Also note the use of the words: “may, suggest, could be. if, hopeful.”

  6. 0
    0

    I seem to be a clone of my dad who had dementia so I’d love to know if I’m going to get that too. I already look almost identical, I got Prostate cancer about the same age as he did so if I can start treatment before I get like he did in a short period of time, I’d definitely want to be able to slow it down.

    • 0
      0

      Dear Baz,

      I understand your concerns and I am currently completing the MOOC course with the Wicking Institute at the University of Tasmania and the information I am learning is amazing. They have been studying it for many years now and all the lectures and notes and Videos are given by Professors who have been studying the subject for many years. They explain all the factors (some are discussed by other contributors in this forum) but there are many things you can to avoid it. Genetics is only one part that contributes. I suggest if you are really worried you see your doctor and get him/her to recommend a specialist who can go over all the factors that contribute.

    • 0
      0

      Dear Baz,

      I understand your concerns and I am currently completing the MOOC course with the Wicking Institute at the University of Tasmania and the information I am learning is amazing. They have been studying it for many years now and all the lectures and notes and Videos are given by Professors who have been studying the subject for many years. They explain all the factors (some are discussed by other contributors in this forum) but there are many things you can to avoid it. Genetics is only one part that contributes. I suggest if you are really worried you see your doctor and get him/her to recommend a specialist who can go over all the factors that contribute.


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