A simple blood test that can predict if there is a chance for a person to develop Alzheimer’s disease at least ten years in advance may be on its way.
This inexpensive blood test, currently being developed by British scientists can warn the likelyhood of Alzheimer’s up to ten years before symptoms show.
Researchers at the institute of psychiatry at King’s College London have pinpointed a protein called clusterin for the effective prediction of Alzheimer’s.
Clusterin is a blood protein and its levels increase years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear.
Clusterin causes the brain shrink. This will eventually lead to increasing forgetfulness.
Therefore, if someone has an elevated or more than usual level of clusterin protein in his blood there is more chance for developing the disease, the researchers wrote in the journal Archives of General psychiatry.
Identifying clusterin as a blood biomarker that may be relevant to both the pathology and symptoms of the disease may bring us closer to the primary goal in Alzheimer’s research to develop an inexpensive, easily administered test to accurately detect and track the progression of this devastating disease, researchers noted.
The cheap and simple test to detect the clusterin level in the blood can be given to adults with a family history of the disease, as well as those with diabetes or other conditions that increase their chances of it, they explained.
Alzheimer’s disease, which generally manifests in the later years of life, in people who are 65 or over. If the disease
could be spotted early, it would allow much earlier intervention to prevent it through treatments.
Such a warning test would also provide more time to the patients and their families more time to prepare to tackle the memory stealing Alzheimer’s disease.
At present, Alzheimer’s diseases is diagnosed on the basis of memory tests. Sometimes it would require expensive brain scans to detect the disease.
The confirmatory evidence that the person suffered from Alzheimer’s can be made only by examining the patient’s brain after the his/her death.
The clusterin protein-based test to detect Alzheimer’s may be commercially available within three years.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive and fatal brain disease. Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells, causing memory loss and problems with thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, and it is fatal.
As many as 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Today it is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States. Learn more: Warning Signs and Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Other types of dementia include vascular dementia, mixed dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia.
Alzheimer’s has no current cure. But treatments for symptoms, combined with the right services and support, can make life better for the millions of Americans living with Alzheimer’s.
Two abnormal structures called plaques and tangles are prime suspects in damaging and killing nerve cells.
Plaques build up between nerve cells. They contain deposits of a protein fragment called beta-amyloid. Tangles are twisted fibers of another protein called tau.
Tangles form inside dying cells. Though most people develop some plaques and tangles as they age, those with Alzheimer’s tend to develop far more. The plaques and tangles tend to form in a predictable pattern, beginning in areas important in learning and memory and then spreading to other regions.
Scientists are not absolutely sure what role plaques and tangles play in Alzheimer’s disease. Most experts believe they somehow block communication among nerve cells and disrupt activities that cells need to survive.