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"New blood test for early detection of Alzheimer's disease!"

July 8, 2014

 

The article below came to me via email to one of the list groups that I belong to.  I have also included some links to additional articles on the latest news in dealing with Alzheimers as well as a video at the end of this article.

"Scientists at Oxford University and Kings College London have developed a blood test which can predict the onset of Alzheimer's so that drugs could target the disease before symptoms ever appear

A blood test to predict if someone will develop Alzheimer’s within a year has been unveiled by scientists in a breakthrough which could see the disease become preventable.

After a decade of research, experts at Oxford University and Kings College London are confident they have found the 10 proteins which show the disease is imminent.

It means that clinical trials can now start on people who have not yet developed Alzheimer’s to find out which drugs halt its onset.

The blood test, which could be available in as little as two years, has been hailed as ‘major step forward’ by Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, and charities, who claim it could ‘revolutionise’ research into a cure.

“Alzheimer’s is a horrible disorder. As our populations grow it is going to continue to rise, said Simon Lovestone, Professor of Translational Neuroscience at the University of Oxford.

“Although we are making drugs they are all failing. But if we could treat people earlier it may be that the drugs are effective.

“Alzheimer’s begins to affect the brain many years before patients are diagnosed with the disease. If we could treat the disease in that phase we would in effect have a preventative strategy.”

Currently there is no way to diagnose Alzheimer’s until it has already progressed so far that drugs will not work.

Clinical trials into ‘wonder drugs’, like BACE inhibitors and anti-amyloid agents, have shown little improvement for sufferers, and scientists believe that, by the time Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, an irreversible ‘cascade ‘of symptoms has already occurred.

But if the disease could be caught earlier, the debilitating effects could be prevented.

Around 600,000 people are currently suffering from Alzheimer’s in Britain and hundreds of thousands have mild cognitive impairment.

Without improvement the number of over-60s living with Alzheimer’s and related conditions will more than double from 800,000 to two million over the next 35 years, putting a huge strain on the NHS and social services. Dementia costs our economy up to £21billion a year in treatment costs and lost productivity.

In June David Cameron, the Prime Minister, pledged to fast-track research promised to double investment in tackiling dementia to £122million by 2025.

The new test, which examines 10 proteins in the blood, can predict with 87 per cent accuracy whether someone suffering memory problems will go on to develop Alzheimer’s within a year.

“We now have a set of 10 proteins that can predict whether someone with early symptoms of memory loss, of mild cognitive impairment, will develop Alzheimer’s disease within a year, with a high level of accuracy, said lead author Dr Abdul Hye of the Institute of Psychiatry of Kings College London.

The researchers used data from three international studies. Blood samples from 1,148 people were taken, 476 of whom had Alzheimer’s disease, 220 with memory problems, and a control group of 452 without any signs of dementia.

The scientists found that 16 proteins were associated with brain shrinkage and memory loss and 10 of those could predict whether someone would go on to develop Alzheimer’s.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said: “This is welcome research on an issue we’re made a national priority.

“Developing tests and biomarkers will be important steps forward in the global fight against dementia as we search for a cure.”

Previous studies have shown that PET brain scans and plasma in lumbar fluid could be used to predict that onset of dementia from mild cognitive impairment. But PET imaging is highly expensive and lumbar punctures are invasive and carry risks.

Researchers are already in contact with commercial diagnostic companies and the first tests are likely to be available in between two and five years.

However, the study is likely to throw up ethical dilemmas about whether patients should receive potentially devastating news about their future.

Professor Lovestone said it was unlikely that GPs would use the test until a treatment was available.

“As long as there are no treatments one can question the value of using a test in that sort of setting.

“But at the moment people come to me with memory loss and ask if they will get Alzheimer’s and I have to tell them to come back in a year. That is grim. It’s horrible.

“So although I would have some reservations about doing a test, some people who come to clinics do want to know.”

The breakthrough was welcomed by dementia charities and the academic community.

Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, which helped fund the research, said it brought the prospect of Alzheimer’s becoming a preventable disease ‘significantly closer.’

Dr James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society said that finding a way to detect dementia would ‘revolutionise’ research into the condition, but warned that accuracy would need to be higher to avoid false positives.

Prof Gordon Wilcock, emeritus professor of Geratoloy at the University of Oxford, added: “This is great news.

“A blood test is much simpler and less invasive than testing cerebrospinal fluid obtained at lumbar puncture, and less troublesome to patients than having a brain scan.

“If confirmed they will be of significant benefit in the design of trials of new treatments, and deciding which patients are more likely to respond to new drugs when these become available.”

Dr Ian Pike, co-author of the paper from Proteome Sciences said: “This is a major step forward, a technical tour-de-force.”

The research, which also carried out by teams from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, Exeter University, among others, was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia"

Source:  GROUPS.MICHBAR.ORG

 

Additional Links:

The Telepgrah:  "Those Newly Diagnosed with Dementia are 'cut adrift' just when they need help most..." By Jeremy Hughes - Chief Executive, the Alzheimer's Society.  Click here for full story

 

 

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© 2014 James R. Modrall, III

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