University of Otago researchers have discovered a promising new marker that could help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease — and all that might be required is a simple blood test.
The researchers have discovered that a small number of a large class of molecules called microRNAs — found in both the human brain and blood — are exceptionally good at detecting Alzheimer’s disease.
Before this work began, blood plasma microRNA had been shown to reflect various disease
processes, and specific microRNAs were linked to neurological diseases. This led Dr Joanna Williams of Otago’s Department of Anatomy to suggest that blood microRNA levels may reflect changes in the brain.
The specific set of blood microRNAs that the Otago researchers have identified can detect Alzheimer’s disease correctly 86 per cent of the time.
Although the exact identities of these diagnostic molecules are still under wraps, the researchers believe this finding is an important breakthrough that has the potential to help even with diagnosis at the very earliest stages of the disease.
In : Cognition