18 proteins ID at-risk patients years before clinical diagnosis, scientists say
MONDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- An international team of scientists has developed a blood test that could reveal which patients with mild cognitive impairment will go on to develop Alzheimer's disease.
If replicated and validated -- and assuming the development of effective treatments against Alzheimer's in the future -- such a test could open the door to medicating at-risk patients earlier and slowing or limiting neurological damage, explained Dr. Allan Levey, chair of neurology at Emory University, Atlanta.
"If it can be replicated, then we will find out how important [the study] really is," said Levey, who was not involved in the research.
The findings were published in the Oct. 14 online issue of Nature Medicine.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's is a progressive, fatal brain disease that affects almost one in eight individuals over the age of 65.
Yet there currently exists no early diagnostic screen for Alzheimer's disease. Diagnosis today is based not on blood chemistry, but on a combination of psychological and imaging tests. Many of those who present with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), will ultimately develop Alzheimer's disease, but others never do.
"Currently, it's very difficult to know who will progress to Alzheimer's and who will progress to other diseases, or which won't progress at all," said Levey. "Ideally, one wants to be able to know at the stage of mild cognitive impairment, or even earlier, if someone is destined to get Alzheimer's disease."
In the new study, a group led by Tony Wyss-Coray, an associate professor of neurology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, analyzed 259 blood samples obtained from individuals with and without Alzheimer's disease. They focused on 120 proteins involved in cellular signaling and communication.
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