Researchers have developed a blood sample analysis that can predict which patients will develop Alzheimer’s disease with almost 90% certainty.
Now, researchers hope that the method will lead to a breakthrough in the fight against the disease.
About 50 million people live with Alzheimer’s disease, and it accounts for more than half of dementia cases worldwide.
The degeneration is believed to be due to an accumulation of proteins in the patient’s brain.
The methods used in the study can be used to diagnose the disease several years before the first symptoms appear.
In an article in the journal Nature Aging, the researchers describe how they have developed and validated models of how much risk an individual has to develop the disease.
They have looked at two important proteins in blood samples from over 550 patients with minor cognitive impairments.
The study showed that with this method they could predict Alzheimer’s with 88% certainty over a period of four years.
The result is considered promising, not least because the method is easy and inexpensive.
The head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society Richard Oakley says that the biggest challenge is being able to diagnose the disease early enough to be able to use experimental treatments.
“If these biomarkers can predict Alzheimer’s in larger and more different groups, then we will be able to experience a revolution in how we test new drugs against dementia,” he noted.
Musaid Husain, professor of neurology at the University of Oxford, believes the study could be a breakthrough.
“For the first time, we have a blood test that is good for predicting the risk of later development of Alzheimer’s disease in people who have mild cognitive symptoms,” Husain, who himself did not contribute to the study, noted.
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