New breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease screening. A team of researchers from the University of Bochum in Germany has succeeded in developing a immunoinfrared sensor capable of detecting signs of this disease in the blood until 17 years before before the appearance of the first clinical symptoms.
As the authors explain, in an article published in the journal Alzheimer’s and dementia: the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, the sensor detects the misfolding of the beta-amyloid protein biomarker. As the disease progresses, misfolding generates characteristic deposits in the brain: these are called plaques.
“Our goal is to determine the risk of developing dementia Alzheimer’s in later phase with a simple blood testeven before the toxic plaques form in the brain,” explains Professor Klaus Gerwert, lead author of the study.
No symptoms from years ago
This disease has a course in which may not have symptoms 15 to 20 years before before the first appearance, so early detection can be vital for later treatment. In the study, the experts analyzed the blood plasma of participants looking for possible biomarkers. These samples were taken between years 2000 and 2002 and were then frozen.
At that time, patients had between 50 and 75 years old, and the disease had not yet been detected. In the present study, 68 participants were recruited, who were had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease during the 17-year follow-up, and were compared with 240 undiagnosed control subjects. With this, the team sought to find signs indicating whether the blood samples could already show signs of the disease at the start of the study.
The developed sensor was able to identify with a high degree of accuracy on 68 subjects proof that they eventually developed Alzheimer’s disease. For comparison, researchers examined other biomarkers with complementary technology: P-tau181, a promising candidate according to various studies.
“Surprisingly, we found that glial fiber protein (GFAP) concentration can indicate the disease up to 17 years before the clinical phase, although it does so much less accurately than the immuno-infrared sensor,” concludes Gerwert. By combining beta-amyloid misfolding and GFAP concentration, they increased the accuracy of the test in this symptom-free phase.