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New blood test may detect the risk of Alzheimer's

Trying to find an accessible form of screening for those who risk developing Alzheimer's before the neurodegenerative disease starts down its destructive path, may no longer be impossible, according to a new study.

Alzheimer’s constitutes for more than 50% of the cases of dementia, and according to estimates by 2021 there will be one million people with dementia in the UK.

The study carried out by Saarland University and Siemens Healthcare and published in the Genome Biology journal, are researching a blood test that could one day be used in an early detection of the disease, and other forms of dementia, which could prove to be vital in the lead to earlier treatment, and delay the progression of the disease.

At the present there are no blood tests for the disease, and neurologists currently rely onclinical symptoms, cognition tests and brain scans, but when signs of the disease have already begun to show.

This new blood test – it isn’t the first in Alzheimer research, there have been several other studies – analyzed 140 microRNAs (fragments of genetic code) in patients with Alzheimer's disease and in healthy people.

Researchers found 12 microRNAs that showed clear differences in levels of miRNA between people with Alzheimer's and the control group.

The test was accurate 93% of the time, with a specificity of 95% and a sensitivity of 92% , and was able to discriminate between Alzheimer's patients and healthy patients, and it was also able to distinguish Alzheimer's from other neurodegenerative diseases with accuracies between 74 percent and 78 percent.

Dr Eric Karran, from the Alzheimer's Research UK, told the BBC, "This is an interesting approach to studying changes in blood in Alzheimer's and suggests that microRNAs could be playing a role in the disease.”

"A blood test to help detect Alzheimer's could be a useful addition to a doctor's diagnostic armoury, but such a test must be well validated before it's considered for use. We need to see these findings confirmed in larger samples and more work is needed to improve the test's ability to distinguish Alzheimer's from other neurological conditions

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