A new test could detect Alzheimer’s up to ten years before symptoms appear, The Telegraph reports.
While other tests have been in development for some time, this one can predict the farthest into the future.
The test was presented at an American health conference, and is sponsored by the California-based biotech company NanoSomiX.
The goal is to identify people who are at risk as far in advance as possible in order to begin treatments earlier, or help the person make lifestyle changes aimed at prevention.
Researchers identified a protein called IRS-1, which is involved in producing insulin. They discovered that the protein is defective in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s.
Blood was gathered from three groups of people: some currently with Alzheimer’s; some elderly participants with normal cognitive function who also had diabetes; and some healthy adult participants.
Twenty-two of the Alzheimer’s patients provided blood samples pulled one to 10 years before their diagnoses.
Participants who eventually developed Alzheimer’s had much higher levels of IRS-1, leading researchers to believe the presence of this protein can be used to predict whether or not someone will develop the disease.
A larger, longer-term study is needed to verify how effective the test is. So far, it has only been performed on 174 people.
Still the results are promising: the test was proven to distinguish between those with Alzheimer’s and healthy elderly adults with a 100 percent accuracy rate.
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Megan Jones is a Toronto-based writer and editor for Alzlive. She is the former editor-in-chief at the Ryerson Review of Journalism, and has written for Alzlive, Maisonneuve and The Grid. She nerds out about mental health, gender, cities and subcultures.