Sunday, September 21, 2008

Developing a Simple Blood Test for Alzheimers

In England, researchers from two universities are joining forces to develop a simple blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. How would this change our world if anyone could be tested, easily and inexpensively, to determine if they were in the very early stages of this devastating disease?

This is a good day to ask that question, as today (September 21st) is World Alzheimers Day, which aims to raise awareness about the reality of living with dementia.

This study, funded by the leading UK charity (Alzheimer’s Research Trust), will aim to find out whether ‘biomarkers’ in blood could be used to identify someone with Alzheimer’s.

A biomarker is a term for something present in the body which can indicate disease, such as a certain protein or molecule. The team of researchers from two universities in the Nottingham area will be identifying biomarkers by looking at proteins in the blood of Alzheimer’s patients compared to a control group of healthy older people.

As you probably know, identification of Alzheimer’s disease is difficult in its early stage. Unfortunately, delays in diagnosis can mean that irreversible damage to the brain has already occurred before treatment can be given. Most doctors believe that catching the disease in its early stages and beginning treatment at that time could be a much more effective approach. It would also give people with dementia and their families more time to prepare and plan for the future.

Researchers at The University of Nottingham hit upon the idea of using biomarkers as a means of diagnosis and will be involved in collecting the samples in conjunction with collaborators in the UK and EU, while the samples will be tested using technology based at Nottingham Trent University.


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