A set of biomarkers found in blood samples seem to predict with about 85 percent accuracy whether or not a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease.
The findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, are based on a study of 292 people with early signs of memory problems.
“It is important that we find new ways to diagnose the disease early.”
“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,” says Paul Morgan, a professor and 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.”
Researchers took blood samples from people presenting 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 who did not go on to develop the disease.
“Alzheimer’s disease affects around 520,000 people in the UK and this number is continually growing as the population ages,” says Morgan. “As such 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.”
These new findings laid the groundwork for a much larger, ongoing study funded by the Wellcome Trust and involving several UK universities and pharmaceutical companies that will try to replicate the findings and refine the test.
Researchers from Cardiff University, King’s College London, and the University of Oxford contributed to the study.
Source: Cardiff University