London: Coming soon: A simple test to detect Alzheimer`s disease, the most common form of dementia, before its symptoms appear, say scientists.
Alzheimer`s is currently diagnosed only after patients become demented.
Now, an international team, led by the Lund University in Sweden claims to be developing the test after it found changes in spinal fluid can predict the disease with nearly 90 percent accuracy nearly a decade before Alzheimer`s sets in.
In their research, the scientists analysed biomarkers -- substances in the spinal fluid which are linked to Alzheimer`s disease. They looked at 140 people with mild memory problems and found a certain combination of biomarkers identified those at high risk of dementia.
The research, which also involved Skane University Hospital and the University of Gothenburg, suggested about 90 percent of patients who had both mild cognitive impairment and the telltale changes in spinal fluid composition would develop Alzheimer`s within 10 years.
"Therefore, these markers can identify individuals at high risk for future AD at least five to 10 years before conversion to dementia," they wrote in the latest edition of the `Archives of General Psychiatry` journal.
"Hopefully, new therapies that can retard or even halt progression of the disease will soon be available. Together with an early and accurate diagnosis, such therapies could be initiated before neuronal degeneration is too widespread and patients are already demented," the scientists added.
Dr Simon Ridley of Alzheimer`s Research UK hailed the research. "Early detection would allow new treatments to be trialled much earlier, when it`s thought they`d be more beneficial," he said.