Blood test could diagnose Alzheimer's disease

Scientists have developed a blood test which they believe could diagnose Alzheimer's disease in its early stages.

Experts made the breakthrough by studying blood samples from people with the disease compared with healthy subjects.



They were looking for the production of a brain hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).



Previous studies have shown a small but significant decrease in the amount of DHEA in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.



This decrease has been correlated to an increase in damage to specific proteins in the blood.



In the latest study, researchers from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in Canada based their blood test on DHEA.



They were able to promote the production of DHEA, using a chemical process called oxidation, in blood samples taken from patients without Alzheimer's.



But in the samples taken from Alzheimer's patients, oxidation did not result in an increase in DHEA.



"There is a clear correlation between the lack of ability to produce DHEA through oxidation in the blood and the degree of cognitive impairment found in Alzheimer's disease," said senior author Dr Vassilios Papadopoulos, who is director of the institute.



"We demonstrated we could accurately and repetitively detect Alzheimer's disease with small samples of blood.



"This test also allowed for differential diagnosis of early stages of Alzheimer's disease, suggesting this can be used as a test to diagnose the disease in its infancy."



Dr Papadopoulos said that, until now, there had been no way of definitively diagnosing Alzheimer's disease besides post-mortem analysis of brain tissue.



"Our clinical study shows that a non-invasive blood test, based on a biochemical process, may be successfully used to diagnose Alzheimer's at an early stage and differentiate it from other types of dementia."



He said a test was needed that would work alongside other ways of checking for Alzheimer's, such as family history of the disease, mental assessments and the physical examinations.



"An accurate, easy and specific non-invasive biochemical test that correlates with clinical findings is vital," he said.



"We believe our results demonstrate that the DHEA-oxidation blood test can be used to diagnose Alzheimer's at a very early stage and monitor the effect of therapies and the evolution of the disease."



The research was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.









Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, affecting around 465,000 people in the UK.



Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Research about the blood test for DHEA is in the very early stages and much more research is now needed to confirm these findings and to better understand whether the DHEA blood test could provide useful information about the diagnosis or progression of Alzheimer's disease.



"Combining blood tests with other promising techniques including brain scans and spinal fluid tests is likely to provide the most effective results.



"Dementia is the biggest health and social care challenge of our generation. Only with further investment in research can dementia be defeated."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

    £24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there