Blood test predicts chance of dementia

March 6th, 2009 - 3:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 6 (IANS) A simple blood test will help determine whether someone has increased chances of suffering frontal lobe dementia or FTD, long before symptoms appear.
FTD first strikes the frontal lobe, comprising about a third of the brain, occurring frequently in patients under 65. The lobe is involved in regulating behaviour, movement and mood, and it is responsible for cognitive functions such as language.

So, the first clinical signs are changes in behaviour and personality, and then, in a later stage of the disease, the loss of memory functions.

The blood test can be used on a large scale and is much more simple and user-friendly than the current genetic tests. This finding also offers prospects for the early detection of FTD caused by a shortage of progranulin.

New results indicate that progranulin also plays a role in the death of brain cells in other diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Genetic research has shown previously that there is a genetic defect in chromosome 17 in a large percentage of the families with FTD. There are two genes in chromosome 17 that, if a defect occurs, cause a heritable form of FTD.

In 1998, defects were found in the gene for the Tau protein, a substance that appears in the protein clots in the brains of FTD and Alzheimer’s patients.

In 2006, Christine Van Broeckhoven’s team discovered heritable defects in the gene for the progranulin protein. They predicted that people with these heritable defects produce only half of the normal amount of progranulin.

This has been confirmed by Broeckhoven’s team, who have shown that a shortage of this growth factor leads to the dying off of brain cells in the frontal lobe and in this way causes FTD.

Accordingly, Kristel Sleegers, a scientist in Broeckhoven’s team, has developed a test for measuring the quantity of progranulin, according to a release of Annals of Neurology (AN).

This research appeared in the Annals.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Sci-Tech |