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Business News/ Science / Health/  Blood tests can detect signs of dementia 15 years before onset with 90% accuracy, researchers say
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Blood tests can detect signs of dementia 15 years before onset with 90% accuracy, researchers say

A research breakthrough has revealed that blood proteins can detect Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia up to 15 years before a clinical diagnosis. Scientists—after an analysis of around 1,500 blood proteins—have identified 11 proteins that can predict dementia in nine out of 10 cases.

Dementia: Researchers found 11 proteins in 1,417 people who developed dementia in 14 years.Premium
Dementia: Researchers found 11 proteins in 1,417 people who developed dementia in 14 years.

A research breakthrough has revealed that blood proteins can detect Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia up to 15 years before a clinical diagnosis. Scientists—after an analysis of around 1,500 blood proteins—have identified 11 proteins that can predict dementia in nine out of 10 cases.

The findings reported in Nature Aging said blood protein tests can identify people at risk of developing dementia with about 90 per cent accuracy, i.e. the test can detect Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia at the very pre-symptomatic stage. 

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The early identification of dementia risk would enable the use of drugs that slow or even reverse the onset of the disease which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) afflicts more than 55 million people across the globe and is expected to reach 78 million by 2030. The global health body also projects that around 10 million new cases are estimated to be reported every year. 

The researchers screened the blood samples of 52,645 healthy adults in the UK. They gathered the blood samples from the UK Biobank which holds a biomedical database of over half a million Britons and analysed the samples collected between 2006 and 2010. The scientists found 11 proteins in 1,417 people who developed dementia in 14 years period. 

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The researchers also found an increased level of four proteins — GFAP, NEFL, GDF15 and LTBP2 — in the blood of 1,417 people who later developed dementia.

Professor Jianfeng Feng, study co-author and a computational biologist at the University of Warwick and Fudan University China said people are often diagnosed only when they notice memory problems or other symptoms. At that point, the disease might have been progressing for years. “Once we diagnose it, it’s almost too late…and it’s impossible to reverse it."

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The study also reported that people with high levels of GFAP in their blood are more than twice as likely as people with normal levels to develop dementia, and are nearly three times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

It is important to note that Dementia, the seventh leading cause of death across the globe, is a syndrome that can be caused by a number of diseases which over time destroy nerve cells and damage the brain, typically leading to deterioration in cognitive function (i.e. the ability to process thought) beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of biological ageing. It has physical, psychological, social and economic impacts, not only for people living with dementia but also for their carers, families and society at large.

 

 

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Published: 15 Feb 2024, 08:14 PM IST
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