Alzheimer: a blood test to detect the disease?

An early diagnosis could be made through a blood test, which measures the amount of a protein linked to the disease.

The fight against Alzheimer’s disease could see new advances. A team of German scientists has developed a new method to detect the disease earlier. This approach, presented in a recent publication of the journal Nature, would allow beginning more quickly the treatment against this degenerative brain disease.

Scientists have been interested in a protein called NFL [light chain neurofilament]. It is found primarily in neurons. The German team has discovered an increase in neurofilaments in the blood of people with Alzheimer’s disease. To reach this conclusion, the researchers examined the case of 243 people carrying a genetic mutation responsible for Alzheimer’s disease and 162 non-carriers of this mutation.

16 years before the first symptoms

The result: “the number of protein increases in subjects with mutations” and the difference compared to other people “is detectable, even 16 years before the onset of the first symptoms,” says to us. The researchers, therefore, believe that a blood test measuring the number of NFL would allow detection well before the disease.

“We know that the disease appears ten to twenty years before the symptoms appear,” says Professor Mathias Jucker, one of the authors of the study, quoted by BFMTV. “We also know that treatment should start ten years before the onset of symptoms, or even before if we want it to be effective.” However, this method has a limit: it mainly concerns cases of early Alzheimer’s and not hereditary, the most widespread form of the disease.


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