Biomarkers can identify early onset of Alzheimer’s

July 19th, 2008 - 2:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 19 (IANS) Long before symptoms become visible in Alzheimer’s, specific proteins in the blood and spinal fluid begin to drop off, that could then be used as biomarkers to track its progression. Screening patients at the clinically “silent” stage could proceed beside routine tests like colonoscopies and mammograms as another common tool of preventive medicine.

Familial Alzheimer’s (FAD) and sporadic Alzheimer’s are two of the basic types of the disease. The majority of such cases are sporadic and late-onset, developing after the age of 65; the causes of this disease type are not completely understood.

FAD is a rare variant caused by certain gene mutations that affects less than two percent of Alzheimer’s patients. FAD is early-onset, developing before the age of 65, and it is inherited; all offspring in the same generation have a 50-50 chance of developing FAD if one of their parents had it. The markers the researchers tracked came from people with the FAD mutations, reports Eurekalet.

“Since we knew that 50 percent of first-degree relatives will inherit the same rare mutations, we were able to study the biochemical changes occurring in the cerebrospinal fluid and blood as long as 30 years before the subjects were likely to develop the disease themselves,” said John Ringman, who co-authored the study.

He is assistant director at the Mary S. Easton Centre for Alzheimer’s Disease Research in University of California, LA.

“This allowed us to identify markers that might be used to diagnose the disease prior to the development of overt symptoms, and also tells us a lot about the chain of events that cause the disease,” he said.

The findings appeared in current issue of Neurology.

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