Biomarker Points to Alzheimer’s Risk
Monday, March 10, 2014
A study involving Rochester-area seniors has yielded the first accurate blood test that can predict who is at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. This discovery – which appears today in the journal Nature Medicine – could be the key to unlocking a new generation of treatments that seek to head off the disease before neurological damage becomes irreversible.
The biomarker – which consists of 10 specific lipids found in blood plasma – predicted with greater than 90 percent accuracy which individuals would go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease or a precursor condition known as amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). The cost of the simple blood test required to detect these lipids is a fraction of other techniques and, unlike alternatives, it identifies risk early in the disease process before cognitive symptoms appears.
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The ability to identify individuals who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s before the clinical manifestation of cognitive impairment has long been a Holy Grail of the neuromedicine community, said Mark Mapstone, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist with the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and lead author of the study.
Current efforts to develop a treatment for this disease are coming up short because they are probably being used too late. Biomarkers that can allow us to intervene early in the course of the disease could be a game-changer.