Thursday April 26, 2018

New blood test can detect early signs of Alzheimer’s

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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Alzheimer Disease. IANS
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Raising hopes for an effective intervention in diagnosing the risk of early onset of disease, German scientists have developed a new blood test that can detect Alzheimer’s long before the first symptoms appear in patients.

Alzheimer’s disease is thought to begin long before patients show typical symptoms like memory loss.The team, led by Klaus Gerwert, professor at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, noted that one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is the accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques in the patient’s brain.

Diabetes drug can help people with alzheimer's disease and other kind of dementia
Alzheimer’s can now be detected using a blood test.Pixabay

The findings, published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine, showed that the blood test uses a technology called immuno-infrared sensor to measure distribution of pathological and healthy structures of amyloid-beta in the blood.

The pathological amyloid-beta structure is rich in a sticky, sheet-like folding pattern that makes it prone to aggregation, while the healthy structure is not.

Also Read: Can A Beetroot Compound Prevent Alzheimer’s?

The two structures absorb infrared light at a different frequency, allowing the blood test to determine the ratio of healthy to pathological amyloid-beta in the sample.

The pathological form is a misfolded version of this molecule and known to initiate the formation of toxic amyloid-beta molecules that starts accumulating in the brain 15 to 20 years before disease onset.

They found that the test reliably detected amyloid-beta alterations in the blood of participants with mild cognitive impairment that also showed abnormal amyloid deposits in brain scans. In order to detect blood changes well ahead of disease onset, the researchers compared blood samples of 65 participants that were later in the follow-up studies diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease with 809 controls.

This can be very beneficial for potential Alzheimer’s patients. Flickr

The assay was able to detect signs of the disease on average eight years before diagnosis in individuals without clinical symptoms with an overall diagnostic accuracy of 86 per cent. 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, the researchers said. IANS

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STUDY: Lakes on Mars dried up 3.5bn years ago

A study reveals that lakes on Mars dried up 3.5bn years ago.

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An image of Mars.
Mars. Pixabay

The discovery of cracks on the surface of Mars by NASA’s Curiosity rover in early 2017 are evidence of lakes that likely dried up 3.5 billion years ago, confirmed a study, revealing details about the red planet’s ancient climate.

In early 2017 scientists announced the discovery of possible desiccation cracks in Gale Crater, which was filled by lakes 3.5 billion years ago.

“We are now confident that these are mudcracks,” said lead author Nathaniel Stein, a geologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, US.

Since desiccation mudcracks form only where wet sediment is exposed to air, their position closer to the centre of the lake bed rather than the edge also suggests that lake levels rose and fell dramatically over time.

“The mudcracks show that the lakes in Gale Crater had gone through the same type of cycles that we see on Earth,” Stein added.

Representational image for planet Mars.
Representational image. Pixabay

Although scientists have known almost since the moment Curiosity landed in 2012 that Gale Crater once contained lakes, “the mudcracks are exciting because they add context to our understanding of this ancient lacustrine system”, Stein explained, in the paper published in the journal Geology.

“We are capturing a moment in time. This research is just a chapter in a story that Curiosity has been building since the beginning of its mission,” he said.

Also Read: SpaceX to build Mars rockets in Los Angeles

For the study, the team focused on a coffee table-sized slab of rock nicknamed “Old Soaker”.

Old Soaker is crisscrossed with polygons identical in appearance to desiccation features on Earth.

They found that the polygons — confined to a single layer of rock and with sediment filling the cracks between them — formed from exposure to air, rather than other mechanisms such as thermal or hydraulic fracturing, the researchers said.  IANS

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