A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine has identified that a form of protein in the blood might aid in predicting Alzheimer’s. The findings would enable scientists to diagnose the disease a few decades before the onset of symptoms.
Alzheimer’s is a form of neurodegenerative disorder. People with this condition tend to have trouble remembering things and impaired cognitive functions.
The illness often affects older people. Therefore, the risk tends to increase with age.
The exact cause is still unclear. Many experts think that it might be a combination of lifestyle, environmental, and genetic factors. There is also no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
In people with Alzheimer’s, the beta-amyloid protein accumulates in their brain cells and affect cognitive functions. This process could start 2 decades before the diagnosis.
If doctors would find out this accumulation, better medications will be available to treat the symptoms effectively.
Nevertheless, existing methods to detect those features like PET scans can be costly and time-consuming to conduct on a large scale.
The study has found out another protein called tau, which is linked to Alzheimer’s.
They can often be found in the cerebrospinal fluid around the spinal cord and brain of those with the condition.
While it is possible to sample this fluid directly, it needs an expensive, invasive technique called a spinal tap.
Tau proteins typically spill over to the bloodstream from the cerebrospinal fluid, meaning that they can be easily picked up with a blood test. If doctors can detect these elements, it might indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s.
To test the assumption, the study examined blood samples and brain scans of 34 participants.
Scientists detected that a specific form of tau protein called phosphorylated tau 217 correlated with amyloid proteins in the brain. People with amyloid in the brain were around 2 to 3 times more likely to have tau in the blood.
This was confirmed whether patients experienced the cognitive issues of the condition or not.
The findings would significantly facilitate research studies, especially improving clinical diagnosis and searching for new treatment options.
The authors of the study repeated the test with another group of 90 people.
Again, an obvious correlation was noticed between the brain’s amyloid protein and blood’s tau protein. The accuracy was up to 90 percent.
The authors hope that they would improve the method of preparing and concentrating the sample to develop a suitable tau-based blood test, which would detect people with a high risk of Alzheimer’s disease.