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Advanced Blood Test to Spot Alzheimer's Before Progression to Dementia

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 08 May 2024
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Image: Researchers have found a way to spot the debilitating disease Alzheimer\'s before it develops into dementia (Photo courtesy of 123RF)
Image: Researchers have found a way to spot the debilitating disease Alzheimer\'s before it develops into dementia (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

Alzheimer’s disease is well known for its slow development over many years, which typically leads to treatment interventions only after the disease has advanced to stages where it may be nearly impossible to slow down its progression. The results of a groundbreaking study, recently published in the journal Nature Communications, have offered new hope for not only earlier diagnosis but also for potentially slowing the course of Alzheimer’s disease.

A team of researchers from Aarhus University (Aarhus, Denmark) has identified a specific receptor found on immune cells that can bind and neutralize harmful "beta proteins", which are closely linked with the development of Alzheimer's disease. The study underscores the significant role that the peripheral immune system may play in defending the body against Alzheimer’s by preventing the build-up of these harmful proteins in the brain. This discovery paves the way for detecting the disease-related changes much earlier than current methodologies allow. Earlier activation of the body’s immune response could potentially slow the progression of the disease well before it develops into severe dementia.

This innovative approach employs an advanced blood test analysis highly sensitive to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. This marks a significant advancement over existing diagnostic tools like PET scans, which typically detect the disease only at more advanced stages. The study has garnered international attention, prompting the research team to plan further projects to validate this new method in a broader patient cohort. Additionally, the team is investigating the exact mechanisms by which the immune system combats the early signs of Alzheimer's, hoping to develop even more effective treatments in the future.

“Our hope is that these discoveries can pave the way for new strategies in the fight against Alzheimer’s. By understanding how the immune system can be mobilized against early stages of the disease, we might be able to develop therapies that can intervene much earlier than current treatment options," said Kristian Juul-Madsen, postdoc at the Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, and one of the researchers behind the study.

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