Scientists have found that Alzheimer’s disease can be detected years before a patient starts showing symptoms.
It is known that cognitive decline is usually only picked up when someone begins to forget and become confused, but researchers at the University of Glasgow, have discovered that healthy individuals at a higher genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease may show differences in brain structure and cognitive test scores, which can lead Highlights those most at risk.
During the study, the researchers calculated a genetic risk score for 32,790 healthy adults without dementia, whose health information was stored in the UK Biobank database, and whose average age was 64 years.
The database includes in-depth data on their health, lifestyle and cognitive test results.
The researchers used polygenic risk assessment (PRS), a method used to estimate an individual’s genetic risk of developing a particular disease, based on millions of genetic markers.
Those with a higher PRS score had slight differences in the hippocampus, one of the first parts of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
They also had lower intelligence and a lower ability to think and solve new problems.
Rachana Tank, a doctoral student at the University of Glasgow and lead author of the study, said: ‘The effects of genetic risk may be apparent long before clinical dementia is diagnosed. It is important that we do more research in this area.”
“These findings could lead to a better way to measure Alzheimer’s risk than current methods of inquiring about a family history of dementia,” said Dr. Donald Lyall, a lecturer in public health at the university’s Institute of Health and Welfare and co-author of the study.
“The ability to identify individuals at risk of deteriorating cognitive abilities and potentially accelerated decline could significantly improve prognosis and treatment options in the future,” he explained.
Early identification of the disease could dramatically change how it is managed and enable interventions that prevent or delay the onset of the disease, according to Professor Paul Morgan, a medical expert in biology at Cardiff University, who has indicated that population screening can be done using PRS registration.
He added that brain imaging is the natural way to diagnose dementia, but it is expensive and that cognitive tests are labour-intensive.
Fiona Carragher, director of research and impact at Alzheimer’s Association UK, said: “If we can accurately identify people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life, it could be a real game-changer.
It is noteworthy that early detection of people at higher risk has the potential to pave the way for new treatments in the future and help researchers understand the causes of the development of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Although the study, which was described as large, shows additional evidence for the theory that some brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease can start many years before symptoms such as memory loss appear, in reality, it only looked at people of a white European background. Therefore, an association between genetic factors and changes in the brain remains to be demonstrated for those in other ethnic communities.
Source: Daily Mail