Scientists Discover Warning Signs of Dementia in the Blood
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s pose great difficulties in the medical community as there is still no timely diagnosis and prevention. A research team made up of experts from the DZNE and the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) conducted a study and discovered a specific biomarker that can contribute to the early detection of dementia through blood testing.
The research team leader, Prof. Andre Fischer, explained that the research involved measuring microRNAs, regulatory protein-producing molecules. As these molecules have a significant influence on numerous internal processes in the body, the team was prompted to investigate any microRNAs that influence mental activity.
The study encompassed a large-scale sample involving mice and cell testing and human testing of both healthy young participants and mildly cognitively impaired elderly patients subject to therapy in German university hospitals.
Three microRNAs of relevance for cognitive status were detected throughout the study. Results obtained from testing healthy participants suggest that lower levels of microRNAs in the blood instigate better cognitive performance. Almost all patients with mild cognitive impairment who exhibited higher microRNA levels developed Alzheimer’s disease in the following two years. Fischer claims that higher levels of the three specific microRNAs can be considered a warning sign of early dementia, providing an advantage of two to five years before the disease takes a heavy toll.
Laboratory testing has proven that the three microRNA types hinder specific neurological processes and mainly that blocking these microRNAs in mice enhances their cognitive performance.
Fischer sees these findings as a crucial step moving forward. They aim to simplify the measurement process and create a simple and rapid test readily available on regular medical checkups. He believes that identifying this biomarker offers early detection possibilities and potential for therapy in advanced stages of dementia.
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