Although scientists are likely to be some way off finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there appears to be a major breakthrough in early detection of the condition by a simple blood test. This low cost test could identify those people who may be at risk of developing Alzheimers in the future.
Studies carried out by scientists in Australia have discovered that physical changes in the brain that can occur many years before a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is made.
The blood test works by detecting early biological indicators called biomarkers. They can detect a build up of abnormal “amyloid” protein in the brain and if enough of these proteins clump together, they form plaques which indicate the presence of the disease.
There is much work still to be done to understand why this dangerous build up of proteins occurs in some people but not others. There are approximately 700,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this figure is only likely to increase. Detecting those at risk of developing the condition earlier, would allow greater insight into the condition and enable people to make all possible lifestyle changes and have early treatment that could delay of the development of the disease.
Having a healthy lifestyle is important for healthy living. Lifestyle factors linked to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s include smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise. Other factors such as diabetes, obesity and depression along with an unhealthy lifestyle can also increase the risk of developing the disease.
The studies are in the early stages, but if predictions are correct, then the test could be available within 5 years. It will be a major breakthrough as it will no only be a non-invasive procedure but also means that a diagnosis can be made at a very early stage.
For more information visit the Alzheimer’s Society’s website.