In a significant step towards the development of a simple blood test for Alzheimer’s, scientists have found a set of biomarkers that can predict whether or not an individual would develop the neurodegenerative disease.
Researchers from Cardiff University, King’s College London and the University of Oxford in the UK studied blood from 292 individuals with the earliest signs of memory impairment.
“Our research proves that it is possible to predict whether or not an individual with mild memory problems is likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the next few years,” said Professor Paul Morgan, Director of Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute.
“We hope to build on this in order to develop a simple blood test that can predict the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease in older people with mild, and possibly innocent, memory impairment,” said Morgan.
The study took blood samples from individuals with very common symptoms of memory impairment and measured a large number of proteins belonging to a part of the immune system which is known to drive inflammation and has previously been implicated in brain diseases.
When the individuals were re-assessed a year later, about a quarter had progressed to Alzheimer’s disease and three of the proteins measured in their blood showed significant differences from the blood of participants that did not go on to develop the disease.
“It is important that we find new ways to diagnose the disease early, giving us a chance to investigate and instigate new treatments before irreversible damage is done,” said Morgan.
The research was published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.