Thursday January 23, 2020

Researchers Develop New Test to Detect Alzheimer’s Disease Even Before the Symptoms Occur

Now, new clinical studies with test participants in very early stages of the disease can be launched

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In Alzheimer's disease, patients start losing memory. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a new test that could help doctors detect Alzheimer’s disease eight years before the first symptoms occur.

Using current techniques, Alzheimer’s disease, the most frequent cause of dementia, can only be detected once the typical plaques have formed in the brain.

At this point, therapy seems no longer possible. However, the first changes caused by Alzheimer’s take place on the protein level up to 20 years sooner.

“Once amyloid plaques have formed, it seems that the disease can no longer be treated,” said study co-author Andreas Nabers from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany.

In Alzheimer’s patients, the amyloid beta protein folds incorrectly due to pathological changes long before the first symptoms occur.

A team of researchers headed by Klaus Gerwert from Ruhr-University Bochum successfully diagnosed this misfolding using a simple blood test. As a result, the disease could be detected approximately eight years before the first clinical symptoms occur.

A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

But experiments showed that the test was not suitable for clinical applications as the test provided false positive diagnoses for nine per cent of the study participants.

In order to increase the number of correctly identified Alzheimer’s cases, the researchers have now introduced the two-tier diagnostic method.

To this end, they use the original blood test to identify high-risk individuals. Subsequently, they add a dementia-specific biomarker, namely tau protein, to run further tests with those test participants whose Alzheimer’s diagnosis was positive in the first step.

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If both biomarkers show a positive result, there is a high likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease, said the study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring.

“Through the combination of both analyses, 87 of 100 Alzheimer’s patients were correctly identified in our study,” Gerwert said.

“Now, new clinical studies with test participants in very early stages of the disease can be launched,” Gerwert added. (IANS)

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One Sleepless Night Could Contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease: Research

Losing just one night's sleep linked to Alzheimer's disease

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Alzheimer's disease
Losing just one night of sleep fuels brain proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease. Pixabay

Losing just one night of sleep fuels brain proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, a new research warns.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, found that when young, healthy men were deprived of just one night of sleep, they had higher levels of tau, a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease, in their blood than when they had a full, uninterrupted night of rest.

Tau is a protein found in neurons that can form into tangles. These accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It can start to develop in the brain decades before symptoms of the disease appear.

Alzheimer's
The study, published in the journal Neurology, found that when young, healthy men were deprived of just one night of sleep, they had higher levels of tau, a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease. Pixabay

Previous studies of older adults have suggested that sleep deprivation can increase the level of tau in the cerebral spinal fluid.

“Our exploratory study shows that even in young, healthy individuals, missing one night of sleep increases the level of tau in blood suggesting that over time, such sleep deprivation could possibly have detrimental effects,” said study author Jonathan Cedernaes, from Uppsala University in Sweden.

The study involved 15 healthy, normal-weight men with an average age of 22. They all reported regularly getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night.

There were two phases to the study. For each phase, the men were observed under a strict meal and activity schedule in a sleep clinic for two days and nights. Blood samples were taken in the evening and again in the morning.

For one phase, participants were allowed to get a good night of sleep both nights.

Alzheimer's disease
Researchers also looked at four other biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s but there were no changes in levels between a good night of sleep and one night of no sleep. Pixabay

For the other phase, participants were allowed to get a good night of sleep the first night followed by a second night of sleep deprivation.

During sleep deprivation, lights were kept on while participants sat up in bed playing games, watching movies or talking.

Researchers found that the men had an average 17 per cent increase in tau levels in their blood after a night of sleep deprivation compared to an average two per cent increase in tau levels after a good night of sleep.

Researchers also looked at four other biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s but there were no changes in levels between a good night of sleep and one night of no sleep.

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“It’s important to note that while higher levels of tau in the brain are not good, in the context of sleep loss we do not know what higher levels of tau in blood represent,” said Cedernaes.

According to the researchers, when neurons are active, production of tau in the brain is increased. Higher levels in the blood may reflect that these tau proteins are being cleared from the brain or they may reflect elevated tau levels in the brain. (IANS)