A simple blood test can spot the signs of Alzheimer’s disease 17 years before symptoms appear, according to new research.
Scientists have created a sensor that can detect signs of the condition years before they first manifest themselves. It should mean that older people can be easily screened for the disease.
If they show signs of this, medications can be given early on when they work best.
Part of the Bochum research team: Klaus Gerwert (L) and Léon Beyer in an undated photo. A simple blood test can spot signs of Alzheimer’s 17 years before symptoms appear, according to their research.
RUB, Marquard, SWNS / Zenger
Researchers hope that one day the disease will be stopped while patients are still asymptomatic and before irreversible damage occurs.
The gadget works by sniffing where the beta-amyloid protein, which can help identify diseases, has folded and lost its original shape.
Misfolded proteins also play a role in the development of other diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntingdon’s disease.
As the disease progresses, this misfolding can cause plaque in the brain.
German academics hope that turning point this will allow more Alzheimer’s drugs to be developed in the future and existing drugs to work better.
Clinical trials of Alzheimer’s drugs have failed by the dozen because the plaque tests used in them fail to spot the disease in time.
Once the plaques appear, they appear to cause irreversible brain damage.
In existing tests, plaques in the brain are detected through an expensive PET scan or detected indirectly.
The new sensor signals misfolded proteins, creating plaques, which means that diseases can be detected earlier.
A lab technician reviews the results of computerized blood tests at the Maccabi Health Services HMO Central Laboratory on January 22, 2006 in Nes Tsiona, Israel. A simple blood test can spot the signs of Alzheimer’s disease 17 years before symptoms appear, according to new research.
David Silverman/Getty Images
For the study, the team analyzed the Germans’ blood plasma to look for signs of the condition.
Blood samples were taken between 2000 and 2002 before being frozen.
The participants were between the ages of 50 and 75 at the time and had not yet been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
The team then selected 68 participants who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease during the 17-year follow-up and compared them with 240 people who had not been diagnosed.
The sensor was able to very accurately identify the 68 people who later developed Alzheimer’s disease.
They then tried other gadgets, including P-tau181, which is considered promising, but they failed to detect the disease 17 years earlier.
The team found that analysis of the concentration of glial fibers can also indicate disease up to 17 years before symptoms appear, although this is much less accurate than the sensor.
Analysis of the concentration of the folding protein and the glial fiber could further increase the accuracy of the assay.
“Our goal is to determine the risk of developing late-stage Alzheimer’s dementia with a simple blood test, even before toxic plaques form in the brain, to ensure that therapy can be started on time,” said he. said the study’s lead author, Professor Klaus Gerwert, of the Ruhr University of Bochum, Germany.
The team founded the start-up BetaSENSE, patented the drug and hopes to bring it to market soon.
Gerwert added: “The view is that the disease can be stopped at a symptom-free stage before irreversible damage occurs.”
The first author of the study Léon Beyer, PhD. student from the same university said: “The exact timing of the therapeutic intervention will become even more important in the future.
“The success of future drug trials will depend on study participants being well characterized and not yet showing irreversible harm upon participation in the study.”
The results were published July 19 in the journal Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Produced in collaboration with SWNS.
This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.