Monday January 21, 2019

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
Alzheimer Disease. IANS

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

Next Story

Poor Sleep May Signal The Risk of Alzheimer’s in Elderly

For the study, the team studied 119 people aged 60 or older among which almost 80 per cent were cognitively normal and the remainder were very mildly impaired

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alzheimer's, cholesterol
Poor sleep can predict Alzheimer's Risk in elderly. Pixabay

Poor sleep quality may signal the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults, a study suggests.

People with Alzheimer’s tend to wake up tired and their nights become even less refreshing as memory loss and other symptoms worsen.

However, the reason was not fully understood.

The study, led by the Washington University in St. Louis found that older adults who sleep poorly or have less slow-wave sleep — deep sleep needed to consolidate memories and wake up feeling refreshed — have higher levels of tau — a toxic brain protein.

Tau has also been linked to brain damage and cognitive decline.

“Measuring how people sleep may be a non-invasive way to screen for Alzheimer’s disease before or just as people begin to develop problems with memory and thinking,” said lead author Brendan Lucey, Assistant Professor from the varsity.

"The question for us now is not how to eliminate cholesterol from the brain, but about how to control cholesterol's role in Alzheimer's disease through the regulation of its interaction with amyloid-beta," Vendruscolo said.
In Alzheimer’s disease, patients start losing memory, Pixabay

Moreover, the findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that it was not the total amount of sleep that was linked to tau, but the slow-wave sleep, which reflects quality of sleep.

The people with increased tau pathology were actually sleeping more at night and napping more in the day, but they weren’t getting as good quality sleep.

“What’s interesting is that we saw this inverse relationship between decreased slow-wave sleep and more tau protein in people who were either cognitively normal or very mildly impaired, meaning that reduced slow-wave activity may be a marker for the transition between normal and impaired,” Lucey added.

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For the study, the team studied 119 people aged 60 or older among which almost 80 per cent were cognitively normal and the remainder were very mildly impaired.

Up to two decades before Alzheimer’s symptoms of memory loss and confusion appear, amyloid beta protein begins to collect into plaques in the brain. Tangles of tau appear later, followed by decline of key brain areas. Only then do people start showing unmistakable signs of cognitive decline.

The challenge is finding people on track to develop Alzheimer’s before such brain changes undermine their ability to think clearly. For that, sleep may be a handy marker, the researchers said. (IANS)