A breakthrough in Britain may hold hope for those suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Scientists have developed a blood test that looks for the presence of ten different proteins in the blood that can tell if a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists used this blood test on three different types of people; people who were healthy and had no trace of Alzheimer’s disease, people who were showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and people who had Alzheimer’s disease. Using the blood test, doctors were able to determine with 87% accuracy that people showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease would develop the disease.
What Is Alzheimer’s?
Dementia is a broad category of brain diseases that causes a person to not think clearly, to lose memory, and to not be able to perform routine tasks such as walking. There are many forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. In 2013, 44 million people were affected by Alzheimer’s disease. In 2050, it is estimated that 135 million people will have the disease.
In Alzheimer’s disease, the brain slowly stops functioning properly. Doctors say that Alzheimer’s disease progresses in three general stages. In the first stage, one gets short-term memory loss and is not able to remember recent events. The next stage comes with long term memory loss, in which one will not be able to remember their family and friends. In the third and final stage, one needs help with everything, and will not be able to carry out simple tasks. For example, when a person with Alzheimer’s disease puts food in his mouth, he might forget to chew and swallow. Doctors say that it takes about 7 years for Alzheimer’s disease to fully progress.
What Happens To The Brain?
The brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease becomes smaller over time. Brain cells die and the brain loses tissue, causing the brain to shrink. Nobody knows the real reason for the brain shrinkage, but doctors suspect that a type of protein called beta-amyloid builds up between brain cells and causes brain cells to die.
Doctors have been trying to find effective ways to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in a patient.
Currently, doctors use behavioral tests to see if the patient is thinking and reasoning clearly. But a person with other forms of dementia could also display similar symptoms to Alzheimer’s disease. To diagnose Alzheimer’s, doctors follow behavioral tests with brain scans to see if there is tissue loss in the brain. With this type of test, the disease would have progressed too much for a possible cure.
With the newly developed blood test, doctors can tell earlier if someone has the potential to develop Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly find ways to prevent it.