London: A 30-second test to spot the signs of Alzheimer`s in those in their 40s is being developed by scientists.
The simple procedure, which warns of the debilitating disease decades before symptoms show, brings the hope of routine screening for dementia in as little as two years.
Alzheimer`s and other forms of dementia affect more than 800,000 Britons, with the number expected to double in a generation, the Daily Mail reported.
David Bunce of Brunel University, London, who led the research, said: "The earlier we can intervene with people vulnerable to eventual dementia, the greater the chances of preventing or delaying the disease onset."
However, not everyone will want to be told their fate so far in advance. And there are fears that insurance companies could increase premiums for those who test positive.
Experts say that delaying the onset of Alzheimer`s by five years could halve the number of people who die with the condition, currently a third of over-65s.
Conversely, the computer procedure, based on a simple test of reaction times, would be quick and easy.
Bunce used brain scans to find tiny lesions, each smaller than rice grain, in the white matter of apparently healthy men and women aged 44 to 48 years.
Around 15 percent of the 428 tested had the abnormalities, which occurred in the brain`s memory hub.