Simple blood test for Alzheimer’s prediction expected in 2 years

November 14th, 2007 - 3:01 am ICT by admin  
The researchers claim that the new test can reveal whether or not an individual may develop the degenerative brain disease, long before they actually show the symptoms.

Currently, there is no way to predict Alzheimer’s, and it can only be diagnosed with complete accuracy with a open skull examination after death.

Perth-based drug discovery company Alzhyme has now developed a prototype test, which can detect one of the best-known markers for the disease, beta amyloid.

Professor Ralph Martins, a dementia researcher and Alzhyme’s scientific director, said that the build-up of the “sticky” toxic brain protein could kill off brain cells, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.

“If you’ve got too much it’s bad news,” quoted Prof Martins as saying.

The researcher revealed that genetic causes, diet and lifestyle were associated with the levels of beta amyloid.

Although this protein has been a crucial player in Alzheimer’s research for long, accurately measuring its levels in the blood has proved difficult.

But now the Perth scientists have developed the “most sensitive test now for measuring beta amyloid in the world”, says Prof Martins, by using technology developed by Brisbane-based material sciences firm BioLayer.

“We’ve essentially found a way to put a magnifying glass on the protein and turn up the sensitivity in detecting levels. While it’s early days it’s obviously very exciting and now we need to validate it in a large trial,” he said.

The researchers are recruiting 1000 older people in several centres to test the diagnostic abilities of the new blood test. They believe that the test may be available in hospitals as soon as late 2009.

“We hope people will be able to request it from their doctor in two years, but it may be even sooner,” said Prof Martins.

Professor Jurgen Gotz, director of the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease laboratory at the Sydney-based Brain and Mind Research Institute, believes that the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s before symptoms developed will enable patients to begin treatment in the very early stages of disease, when drugs work most effectively to slow progression.

“A good test would also expand the profile of the disease and what we know about it so we can develop better medications to treat it,” Prof Gotz said. (ANI)

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