Health

Good News For Potential Alzheimer's Patients

| by Jordan Smith
An elderly man with sunflowers on the wall behind himAn elderly man with sunflowers on the wall behind him

A new blood test trialed by researchers could help doctors detect early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease 20 years prior to the appearance of symptoms.

Researchers at Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) and the University of Gotingen in Germany have developed a test capable of detecting amyloid-beta peptides, proteins which are associated with Alzheimer’s, Daily Telegraph reported.

Based on a trial conducted by chemists and psychotherapists, the blood test has an accuracy rate of 84 percent. Out of a group of 141 people aged around 70, the test correctly identified 21 of the 28 cases in which Alzheimer’s had been diagnosed by a doctor.

In addition, it was able to identify eight of the 11 people suffering from mild memory loss due to the disease.

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Currently, by the time symptoms of Alzheimer’s present themselves, the brain has already undergone a terrible degeneration.

“If we wish to have a drug at our disposal that can significantly inhibit the progress of the disease, we need blood tests that detect Alzheimer's in its pre-dementia stages,” Professor Dr. Klaus Gerwert, who heads the Department of Biophysics at RUB, said, according to the Telegraph.

No drug capable of slowing down the progress of the disease is currently available .

“By applying such drugs at an early stage, we could prevent dementia or at the very least delay its onset,” added Professor Dr. Jens Wiltfang, head of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University of Götingen.

One downside to the study was that it incorrectly diagnosed seven people out of 58 who did not have the disease.

“The sooner Alzheimer's is detected, the better the therapy chances. This sensor is an important milestone in the right direction,” he added.

Another new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) indicates that patients who lose memories during the early stages of Alzheimer’s may be able to retrieve them.

Neuroscientists published their research in the journal Nature, where they revealed that memories lost by mice with Alzheimer’s were still stored in the brain. Using a process known as optogenetics, the scientists were able to help the mice rediscover them.

“The important point is, this a proof of concept. That is, even if a memory seems to be gone, it is still there. It’s a matter of how to retrieve it,” Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, told MIT News.

Sources: Daily Telegraph, MIT News/ Photo credit: Greenluka/Flickr

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