Alzheimer’s disease could be prevented after new blood test breakthrough

Jul 10, 2014

By Sarah Knapton


A blood test has been developed to predict if someone will develop Alzheimer’s within a year, raising hopes that the disease could become preventable.

After a decade of research, scientists at Oxford University and King’s College London are confident they have found 10 proteins which show the disease is imminent.

Clinical trials will start on people who have not yet developed Alzheimer’s to find out which drugs halt its onset.

The blood test, which could be available in as little as two years, was described as a “major step forward” by Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, and by charities which said it could revolutionise research into a cure.

“Although we are making drugs they are all failing. But if we could treat people earlier it may be that the drugs are effective,” said Simon Lovestone, professor of translational neuroscience at Oxford. “Alzheimer’s begins to affect the brain many years before patients are diagnosed with the disease. If we could treat the disease in that phase we would in effect have a preventative strategy.”

Clinical trials into so-called “wonder drugs” such as BACE inhibitors and anti-amyloid agents, have shown little improvement for sufferers. Scientists believe that by the time Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, an irreversible “cascade” of symptoms has already occurred.

About 600,000 people in Britain suffer from Alzheimer’s and hundreds of thousands have mild cognitive impairment. Last month, David Cameron pledged to fast-track dementia research.

The new test, which examines 10 proteins in the blood, can predict with 87 per cent ccuracy whether someone suffering memory problems will develop Alzheimer’s within a year.

8 comments on “Alzheimer’s disease could be prevented after new blood test breakthrough

  • Indeed.

    I locked myself out of my apartment twice in the last two weeks! Three times in the last two years so, as always, I wonder. Early signs? Death does not frighten me but dementia does.

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  • I frequently call in to the library on the way home to either deposit or pick-up items, so I try to make this part of my routine. As I sail past so often, I’ve had to incorporate this as part of my routine. I get home, look at the item I was meant to drop off then return to library! I hate to think where this is headed! 🙁

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  • Hopefully nowhere. Old age perhaps but the news above ameliorates my greatest fear. The fear of dementia, living but dead.

    Science. Always working. I wonder if the religious who are in extreme dementia lose their delusions?

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  • . I wonder if the religious who are in extreme dementia lose their delusions?

    I can answer that. My mother was in a nursing home for the last 18 months of her life. There was very little thinking taking place by anyone ( except by my mother who kept her marbles till the end) All that indoctrination was swept away from the minds of the residents. The staff tried valiantly, but the dazed expressions on the faces of the guests revealed that there was nothing going on upstairs.

    This experience strengthened my resolve to take matters in my own hands if I reach this stage. I may have a change of heart when the time comes, but I’d really like to have the choice.

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  • I’ve known so many victims of this fearful disease that I can now recognize its early onset; but of course I would never ever disclose as much before an official diagnosis has been made for fear of being wrong.

    One victim was a friend of mine for forty years, I’d been his best man, and his wife and I still had memories which had been completely erased from his brain; it was so distressing, and the decline went on for ten years with no hope of reprieve.

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  • My father suffered from dementia and it was a tragedy to see such an intelligent man gradually lose the vast store of knowledge and ideas that he had acquired over his lifetime. Any developments in treating this condition will be welcome.

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