London: Scientists have developed a new blood test which they claim could help diagnose people showing early signs of Alzheimer`s disease.
Experts have always felt that a blood test is the Holy Grail for research, as it would allow patients to be diagnosed earlier and given drugs that can slow the disease down Alzheimer`s disease.
Now, an international team, which has developed the blood test, says it works by measuring levels of a hormone in the brain which may begin to decrease in those suffering with the most common form of dementia.
Trials have showed that when the blood is unable to produce this hormone, Alzheimer`s disease is present. In fact, in their research, the scientists tested their theory on some 86 patients and found that a lack of the hormone suggested the patient had Alzheimer`s disease.
"There is a clear correlation between the lack of ability to produce the hormone DHEA through oxidation in the blood and the degree of cognitive impairment found in Alzheimer`s disease. We demonstrated we could accurately and repetitively detect Alzheimer`s with small samples of blood.
"This test also allowed for differential diagnosis of early stages of Alzheimer`s, suggesting this can be used as a test to diagnose the disease in its infancy," Dr Vassilios Papadopoulos, who led the study at McGill University Health
Centre in Canada, said.
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.
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 physical examinations.
Experts have welcomed the research but were cautious.
Dr Simon Ridley of Alzheimer`s Research UK was
quoted as saying, "This poses a new way
of testing blood to diagnose Alzheimer`s, but more research
must be done."
A spokeswoman for the Alzheimer`s Society added:
"Research about the blood test is in the very early stages.
Much more research is needed to confirm findings and better
understand whether the test could provide useful information
about the diagnosis or progression of Alzheimer`s disease."
The findings have been published in the `Journal of