Scientists have revealed that they will be able to predict Alzheimer’s in healthy adults several years before its onset, after conducting fresh research.
Research led by Dr Geert De Meyer from Ghent University in Belgium has suggested the disease can be identified by analysing protein “biomarkers” found in cerebrospinal fluid.
The biomarker signature was identified in 90% of patients with Alzheimer’s, 72% of those with mild mental impairment and 36% of cognitively normal people.
The scientists - who studied data from 114 older adults who were healthy, 200 who had mild cognitive impairment and 102 with confirmed Alzheimer’s disease - found that the amount of the proteins varied in people with different levels of mental impairment.
They wrote in the journal Archives of Neurology: “The initiation of the Alzheimer’s disease pathogenic process is typically unobserved and has been thought to precede the first symptoms by 10 years or more. Therefore, demonstrating that Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers … are true indicators of the pathogenic process at an early stage is a major challenge.”
The findings were cross-checked against post-mortem studies of dead patients who had Alzheimer’s, and following up patients with mild cognitive impairment for five years.