Blood Test Can Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

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By Smitha Nambiar | July 8, 2014 4:45 PM EST

British scientists at the Oxford University and Kings College London have developed a blood test to detect people with failing memories, who might in future develop Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The findings published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia could help in developing drugs to prevent and even cure Alzheimer's disease and dementia even before the symptom appears.

Reuters
File photo of 111-year-old Alexander Imich holding Guinness World Records certificate recognizing him as world's oldest living man at home in New York City

Few researchers at the Oxford University and the Kings College London seem to have a breakthrough in a quest to find a likely cure for people suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia. As per the study conducted by the scientists, the unique blood test developed will be able to predict the onset of Alzheimer's disease. This will enable the doctors to prepare drugs that can prevent or delay the illness. Studies in more than 1,000 people have revealed a set of proteins in the blood which can predict the onset of Alzheimer's disease with almost 87 per cent accuracy.

The blood test will mostly facilitate individuals who are going through mild cognitive impairment or memory loss. Sixty per cent of people with mild cognitive impairment will go on to develop dementia. Speaking about how Alzheimer's disease affects people, Professor Simon Lovestone from King's College London said, "Many of our drug trials fail because by the time patients are given the drugs, the brain has already been too severely affected." He further added, "A simple blood test could help us identify patients at a much earlier stage to take part in new trials and hopefully develop treatments which could prevent the progression of the disease." Lovestone also said that their next step would be to validate their findings using further sample sets to improve the accuracy and reduce risks of misdiagnosis.

While all scientists are excited about the discovery, they are also cautious about it. Dr Eric Karran, science director at the charity Alzheimer's Research UK, which helped fund the research, said, "We have to be very careful about how we use these tests, especially in the absence of effective therapy." Dr James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said that we are still far away from discovering a blood test for dementia.

"These 10 proteins can predict conversion to dementia with less than 90 per cent accuracy, meaning one in 10 people would get an incorrect result. Therefore, accuracy would need to be improved before it could be a useful diagnostic test," said Dr. Karran. He further added, "Only through further research will we find answers to the biggest questions around dementia, so we will watch the progress of this study with interest."

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(Photo: Reuters / )
File photo of 111-year-old Alexander Imich holding Guinness World Records certificate recognizing him as world's oldest living man at home in New York City
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