A set of ten molecules in blood could be used to predict with 90 per cent accuracy whether people are at greater risk of developing dementia, according to researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center, USA.
The study, published in Nature Medicine, is the first to show differences in the blood between people with pre-clinical Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms appear and those who will not develop the condition.
The team took 525 healthy participants aged 70 and over and observed them for five years. By measuring the presence of ten compounds – known as phospholipids – in the blood the researchers could predict with 90% accuracy people that would go on to develop Mild Cognitive Impairment or Alzheimer’s Disease within that time frame.
Over the course of the study, 28 people who started without cognitive symptoms went on to develop either Mild Cognitive Impairment or Alzheimer’s disease within an average of two to three years.
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development, at the UK-based Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Right now we do not have a blood test that is currently available to predict the risk of someone getting dementia. Having such a test would be an interesting development but it also throws up ethical considerations. If this does develop in the future people must be given a choice about whether they would want to know, and fully understand the implications.
‘This research could also give clues on how Alzheimer’s Disease occurs and warrants further study, but as such a small number of people showed dementia symptoms there need to be larger studies with different populations before it could be turned into a blood test for Alzheimer’s Disease.“