Early Detection of Alzheimer's

Alzheimers may be diagnosed early with new blood test

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) There may be a way to detect Alzheimer's disease sooner. Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia that causes memory loss and problems with thinking. Currently, Alzheimer's can only be diagnosed with certainty after a person has died.

A recent study found that a blood test could identify genetic markers that may be unique to people with Alzheimer's disease.

According to the study's authors, this finding may help doctors diagnose Alzheimer's sooner than they were able to before.

Earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's may possibly help researchers find better ways to treat the disease.

"Talk to your doctor if you're having memory loss."

This study was led by Petra Leidinger, PhD, in the Department of Human Genetics at Saarland University in Homburg, Germany. The research team examined whether expression of specific microRNAs could be used as a marker of Alzheimer's disease. MicroRNAs are short sequences of genetic material that help regulate gene expression.

The researchers tested the blood of 48 patients with Alzheimer's disease and 22 healthy individuals of a similar age to identify differences in microRNAs. The blood samples were taken from the SAMPLE (Serial Alzheimer Disease and MCI Prospective Longitudinal Evaluation) Registry.

The researchers found 140 microRNAs that were expressed in different amounts in the two groups. The researchers then sorted the 140 microRNAs based on where they were located to see if they were located in the same region. After sorting them, the researchers identified 12 microRNAs that would likely separate Alzheimer's patients from healthy patients.

The researchers then tested for the presence of these 12 microRNAs in a sample of 202 individuals from the same registry. This sample also included individuals with other disorders, including mild cognitive impairment, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The researchers found that using these 12 microRNAs as a marker led to a 93 percent accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. They also found that by using the 12 microRNAs as markers, they were able to distinguish between patients with Alzheimer's disease and patients with the other disorders with an accuracy of 74 to 78 percent.

The authors of this study concluded that their findings may allow for a reliable and earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

This study was published on July 29 in Genome Biology.

This study was funded in part by Siemens Healthcare. Some of the authors reported a potential conflict of interest with Siemens Healthcare.

Review Date: 
July 30, 2013
Last Updated:
August 9, 2013