Promising research shows a mere blood test is able to identify Alzheimer’s disease. It is possible to find the disease even decades before it shows any symptoms.
Researchers found a protein that is part of the process of brain cell damage that builds up in the bloodstream of patients 20 years prior to symptoms of this disease show up.
Typically in the brain of an Alzheimer patient, P-tau217 abnormally clumps together, and consequently, a few tiny parts leak through in the blood.
A blood test found my researchers however is about 98 percent accurate at measuring the levels of protein in people and thus diagnosing whether or not the patient has the harrowing disease.
This disease sadly has no guaranteed cure but with the current progress with this blood test, people may be able to partake in trials early to help researchers find a possible treatment.
This blood test may also soon come in handy as a scanning technique to find those vulnerable to the disease. Currently, doctors use such a technique to find if people have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Experts believe this technique can be employed by General physicians as soon as 5 years after this test is fully developed.
The news however hasn’t garnered full support as some people warn there could be a huge ethical concern in revealing such sensitive information to people who will be devastated to hear of their losing memory.
In the UK alone about 850,000 individuals suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most repeated type found in about two-thirds of the total number of patients.
The brains of those suffering from the disease have knots in these proteins created by tau proteins. The protein amyloid-beta also causes plaques to form in their brains.
These proteins, amyloid-beta, and tau begin to build up before symptoms arise such as confusion and memory loss.
As for now, however, the illness can be detected only when a sufferer begins to exhibit symptoms in a pricey spinal tap or a brain scan. This method involves extracting spinal fluids to measure the fluctuating numbers of the protein in the brain.
Britains GPs these days use memory tests on paper to check if a patient’s diminishing cognition score is like that of the score for Alzheimer’s disease.
Developing a blood test for the disease has been in the works by different researchers for years.
People who were detected to have the disease were able to begin treatment in the early stages or volunteer for drug trials during the onset of the disease. This is done to see if the drugs are likely to be more effective prior to brain damage. It Is a hope that such patients might show development if their disease is caught early.
It is paramount to remember however that this life-changing disease currently has no remedy or treatment to help someone who suffers from it.
The research was performed by a team from the US and Sweden, it consisted of 2 studies which also got presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
The study focused on a subset group of the protein tau, known as p-tau217.
The research taking place in the US discovered that p-tau217 builds up in the spinal fluid, which is a transparent, colorless fluid residing in the spinal cord and brain of those suffering from the disease right before they show cognitive symptoms.
The levels rise as the disease progresses and can predict with accuracy the development of amyloid plaques found in brain scans of patients.
The published study also made it to the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
Regardless of the potential barriers that await this research ahead, Dr. Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK believes that a blood test to identify this disease can be a huge help for potential research for dementia. It could also lead to some breakthrough research for those struggling with dementia.