According to US researchers testing the levels of ten fats in the blood can predict the risk of Alzheimer’s emerging in people during the following three years to a 90% accuracy (Nature Medicine).
The researchers, from Georgetown University in Washington DC, analysed blood samples from 525 people over the age of 70 as part of the five-year study.
Taking 53 of them who developed Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment and comparing their blood with 53 who stayed mentally agile, they discovered that ten fats differed.
Large scale clinical trials are now planned, but if these test are confirmed experts are saying this marks a significant step forward against a backcloth where dementia cases are expected to treble by 2050.
It is thought that the disease may attack the brain for more than a decade before any symptoms emerge and one theory is that drug trials keep failing because they are being employed too late to make a difference.
Developing a predictive test is thus a major step forward.
Howard Federoff, professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center, told the BBC who covered the story, “I think there is a huge need for a test. But we must look at larger numbers of people before this could be used in clinical practice.”
One hope is that the test may produce results even earlier than three years.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of Dementia and affects 62% of those with the illness. It is currently incurable.