An international team of scientists has come up with a new test of key brain features linked with Alzheimer’s disease – an advance they described as a significant step toward a way to diagnose the condition and evaluate the effectiveness of drugs to treat it.
The team – including experts from the U.S., Germany and Sweden – said the test may soon allow doctors to use it to measure the level of certain proteins in the brain believed to be responsible for the brain damage and dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease.
The team’s research involved using the test of spinal fluid from 14 Alzheimer’s patients from clinics in Germany and Sweden. Investigators used the test to determine patients with a greater number of so-called “beta-amyloid” proteins in their brains had more pronounced symptoms, said lead researcher Dr. Alexander Navarrete Santos, of the University of Halle.
Alzheimer's is the most common cause of memory loss and dementia, striking up to 25 million people. Experts expect the cases to rise dramatically as the world’s population ages in coming decades. By 2050, the expected number of Alzheimer’s cases could hit 150 million.
Santos said the new test his team developed could be refined for use as a “biomarker” – or flag – for Alzheimer’s that “might not only be used for the early detection of [Alzheimer’s] but can also be used when developing new and effective therapies.”