A blood pro­tein might be a pre­dic­tor of Alzheimer’s, re­searchers sus­pect

The Tribune (SLO) - - Classifieds - BY NAJJA PARKER

Al­though doc­tors do not know the ex­act cause of Alzheimer’s dis­ease, some be­lieve a blood pro­tein may be an early pre­dic­tor.

Re­searchers from health in­sti­tu­tions in Ger­many re­cently con­ducted a study, pub­lished in the Na­ture Medicine jour­nal, to ex­plore blood tests that could best pre­dict the ill­ness.

To do so, they ex­am­ined 405 in­di­vid­u­als from an in­ter­na­tional re­search col­lab­o­ra­tion, which as­sesses fam­i­lies with a rare form of Alzheimer’s as­so­ci­ated with a par­tic­u­lar gene mu­ta­tion. For sev­eral years, they took blood sam­ples from the sub­jects to test their level of neuro-filament con­cen­tra­tion, a type of pro­tein in the blood that trans­ports sub­stances through­out the brain. The par­tic­i­pants also had to com­plete cog­ni­tion tests of mem­ory and think­ing skills.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tions were car­ried out for about 16 years.

Af­ter an­a­lyz­ing the results, the team no­ticed changes in the neu­ro­fila-ment con­cen­tra­tion and found there was a link be­tween the pro­tein and brain degra­da­tion or mem­ory de­cline and think­ing.

In fact, they dis­cov­ered those at risk of de­vel­op­ing the dis­ease had higher lev­els of the pro­tein early on. Fur­ther­more, the neu-ro­fil­a­ment con­cen­tra­tion lev­els in both the blood and spinal fluid were in­creas­ing for those pa­tients long be­fore they showed signs of mem­ory de­cline.

The sci­en­tists noted the test was only used on people with the par­tic­u­lar form of Alzheimer’s. There­fore, they hope to yield the same results for those with more com­mon forms of the dis­ease.

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