New Blood Test Useful to Detect People at Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease

Research into Alzheimer’s has increased in recent years, but there is much that is still not understood about the disease. Part of the issue is, in some cases, the cognitive decline can’t be recognized and diagnosed until it’s already well under way. At that point, it can be too late for doctors or patients to be able to be able meaningfully manage the symptoms. And one of the few things that is understood about cognitive disorders is that the risk of developing them can be reduced in some ways, sometimes significantly, if the patient and doctor work together to manage that risk.

The most promising avenue of medical investigation into Alzheimer’s currently centers around amyloid plaques in the human brain. When certain of these plaques are found in the brain, this is known to be a certain indicator of cognitive decline. This is significant because the plaque can be present even if cognitive symptoms have not yet begun to manifest. European medical researchers were able to identify the amyloid plaque and isolate it, and then develop that information into detection methods. The first came only when extensive and expensive medical scanners were involved, such as PET machines; but now the research teams have been able to produce a blood test that checks for the plaque.

Key Points:

  • 1One of the hallmarks of Alzheimers disease is the accumulation of amyloid-B plaques in the patient’s brain.
  • 2Toxic amyloid-B molecules start accumulating in the patients body 15-20 years before symptoms begin to show.
  • 3Being able to determine if this plaque is present in the brain through a blood test could determine those at risk early on.

The blood test would thus offer an opportunity to identify those at risk and may thereby open the door to new avenues in drug discovery.

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