A major new scientific breakthrough claims to be able to spot the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease decades before the first symptoms appear
The research team believe over-activity in a brain region vital to memory is key to diagnosing the degenerative disease long before it takes hold.
Scientists have also discovered a genetic fault known to be associated with Alzheimer’s is also linked to hyperactivity in the hippocampus.
The study, reported in the journal PNAS, analysed a group of volunteers, with some as young as 20, and claims to have found a pattern which can help identify the threat of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers think carriers of the defective gene, who also have signs of over-activity in the brain region, may have a heightened risk of Alzheimer’s later in life, although this remains to be proven.
They believe the hippocampus may become overworked and worn out in people who go on to develop Alzheimer’s.
The finding could be a first step towards developing a simple method of spotting young people who are likely to develop the disease. Such a test would make it possible to offer early treatment or provide lifestyle advice that might help them.