A simple blood test which could predict Alzheimer’s disease up to 10 years before symptoms appear, say scientists.
Yes, a British team is developing such a test after the scientists discovered that high levels of a protein can be an early sign of the condition, which they claim would allow much earlier prescription of treatments.
In fact, the scientists at King’s College London, started working on the test after they found that very high levels of blood protein clusterin increase years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.
The protein may be linked with more rapid and severe memory loss, they say. The more clusterin there is, the more the brain shrinks and the more forgetful someone becomes.
Lead scientist Dr Madhav Thambisetty said: “A primary goal in Alzheimer’s research is to develop an inexpensive, easily administered test to accurately detect and track the progression of this devastating disease.
“Identifying clusterin as a blood biomarker that may be relevant to both the pathology and symptoms of the disease may bring us closer to this goal.”
Co—scientist Professor Simon Lovestone said the test would be “as cheap as chips”. He says it being given to adults with a family history of the disease, as well as those with diabetes or other conditions that increase chances of it.
The new test, described in the ‘Archives of General Psychiatry’ journal, which would be used in conjunction with existing diagnostic techniques, could help doctors distinguish normal memory lapses from the early stages of dementia.
Professor Lovestone said: “The single biggest obstacle to developing new drugs and earlier diagnosis is that we are unable to tell the difference between people with memory problems that aren’t going to get worse and people with memory problems that are the first signs of dementia. A blood test could potentially make a huge difference.”
The kit could also hasten the development of vital new medicines. “There are lots of drugs being developed but at the moment all we can do is test them in people who’ve Alzheimer’s disease and it may be too late by then.
“What we want to do is identify people in the very early stages of the disease and test the drugs on them,” he said.