CAMPAIGNERS today welcomed the news that a blood test which could spot the early signs of Alzheimer’s is being perfected by scientists.
Sufferers of the neurodegenerative disease, which causes progressive loss of memory, have higher levels of certain types of amino acids called peptides in their blood, according to research.
The particular group of peptides, called beta amyloid (A), are found naturally in the body, and a build-up in the brain over a period of years causes memory complaints and other symptoms associated with the disease.
Now scientists in Spain believe their test to measure very small amounts of beta amyloid (A) brings them closer to a “reliable, minimally invasive biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease”.
Ernie Thompson, chairman of Action on Dementia Sunderland, said: “Indications are that Alzheimer’s disease begins to develop many years, even decades, before it shows up in the now generally recognised signs of memory loss, etc.
“A simple and reliable blood test to detect Alzheimer’s at an early stage would be a major breakthrough and very welcome news indeed. Although it has to be recognised that not everyone would wish to know in advance, given that at present there is no cure.”
Professor Manuel Sarasa, the chief scientific officer and founder of Araclon Biotech, and his team have been perfecting blood tests “ABtest40” and “ABtest42” to measure tiny amounts of the peptides.
“The study has shown that our tests for A in blood find a high level of association between the peptide levels and the disease when comparing healthy people and people with mild cognitive impairment,” he said.
“By measuring three different levels in blood, free in plasma, bound to plasma components and bound to blood cells, for two of the most significant peptides, A40 and A42, then comparing the ratios of those levels to established diagnoses methods, we have been able to consistently show a relationship between A levels and the disease.”
“This means that we, and by ‘we’ I mean Alzheimer’s’ researchers in general, are that much closer to having a reliable, minimally invasive biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease.”
He added: ”The importance of this is that studies could recruit earlier and at much less expense.”
“Interventional therapies can be tested in earlier stages of the disease and once an effective therapy is found, this type of test will be well suited to population screening in the public health sector.”