Could a Blood Test Detect Alzheimer's? Breakthrough May Help Spot Warning Signs

Article excerpt

Byline: Jane Kirby

SCIENTISTS have developed a blood test which they believe could diagnose Alzheimer's disease in its early stages.

Experts made the breakthrough by studying blood samples from people with the disease compared with healthy subjects.

They were looking for the production of a brain hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).

Previous studies have shown a small but significant decrease in the amount of DHEA in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.

This decrease has been correlated to an increase in damage to specific proteins in the blood.

In the latest study, researchers from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in Canada based their blood test on DHEA.

They were able to promote the production of DHEA, using a chemical process called oxidation, in blood samples taken from patients without Alzheimer's.

But in the samples taken from Alzheimer's patients, oxidation did not result in an increase in DHEA.

"There is a clear correlation between the lack of ability to produce DHEA through oxidation in the blood and the degree of cognitive impairment found in Alzheimer's disease," said senior author Dr Vassilios Papadopoulos.

"We demonstrated we could accurately and repetitively detect Alzheimer's disease with small samples of blood.

"This test also allowed for differential diagnosis of early stages of Alzheimer's disease, suggesting this can be used as a test to diagnose the disease in its infancy. …

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