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New blood test could determine onset of Alzheimer's

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/8/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Oxford University, King's College researchers identify 10 proteins that show imminent onset

The memory-destroying condition known as Alzheimer's, preying chiefly on the elderly, has no known cure. However, after a decade of research, scientists at Oxford University and King's College London have identified 10 proteins that arise when a patient is due to develop Alzheimer's within a year. It's hoped that this breakthrough will lead to a cure for the disease.

The new blood test, which examines 10 proteins in the blood, can predict with 87 percent accuracy whether someone suffering memory problems will develop Alzheimer's within a year.

The new blood test, which examines 10 proteins in the blood, can predict with 87 percent accuracy whether someone suffering memory problems will develop Alzheimer's within a year.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
7/8/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Alzheimer's, blood test, study, proteins


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Authorities say that clinical trials will start on people who have not yet developed Alzheimer's in order to discover which drugs halt its onset.

The test could be available in as little as two years. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says it could revolutionize research into a cure.

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"Although we are making drugs they are all failing. But if we could treat people earlier it may be that the drugs are effective," Simon Lovestone, professor of translational neuroscience at Oxford says.

"Alzheimer's begins to affect the brain many years before patients are diagnosed with the disease. If we could treat the disease in that phase we would in effect have a preventative strategy."

So-called "wonder drugs" such as BACE inhibitors and anti-amyloid agents, have shown little improvement for sufferers. In most cases, by the time Alzheimer's is diagnosed, an irreversible "cascade" of symptoms has already occurred.

The new blood test, which examines 10 proteins in the blood, can predict with 87 percent accuracy whether someone suffering memory problems will develop Alzheimer's within a year.

In the study, blood samples were taken from 1,148 people, 476 of whom had Alzheimer's, 220 with memory problems, and a control group of 452 without any signs of dementia. Researchers found that 16 proteins were associated with brain shrinkage and memory loss and 10 of those could predict whether someone would develop Alzheimer's.

"This is welcome research on an issue we're made a national priority. Developing tests and biomarkers will be important steps forward in the global fight against dementia as we search for a cure," Hunt says.

PET brain scans and plasma in lumbar fluid had previously been used to predict that onset of dementia from mild cognitive impairment. But PET imaging is highly expensive; lumbar punctures are also invasive and carry attendant risks.

The first tests are likely to be available in between two and five years. The study is likely to throw up ethical dilemmas about whether patients should receive potentially devastating news about their future.

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