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Simple blood test can predict dementia

Scientists at University of Copenhagen have found an easier technique for predicting signs of the disease

New research will help predict the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia by means of a simple blood test, scientists say.

A group of health scientists from the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) have found a new way to predict dementia in patients. Their recent study finds that low levels of a biomarker in our blood, called apolipoprotein E, are associated with higher risk of developing the disease later in life. Over 75,000 people participated in the study, which was published in the February issue of the internationally acclaimed medical journal Annals of Neurology.

”This is the first time that a biomarker detectable in a blood test, can help to estimate the future risk of dementia”, says Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, clinical assistant and research professor at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences explains to the University Post.

Towards a cure?

As a result of the tests ”early prevention can be initiated, hopefully postponing development of disease and improving quality of life in older ages”, she continues. The findings will allow doctors to assess patients’ risk of developing dementia not only more easily but also more precisely.

Globally, more than 35 million people are affected by dementia, according to the most recent data from the World Health Organization. In Denmark alone, more than 80,000 people are said to suffer from the disease. A cure for the neurodegenerative disease has not yet been found.

The new research, however, could be a milestone in global efforts to cure it. Professor Frikke-Schmidt stresses that ”when we understand more about the underlying biology, we are getting closer to the opportunity of developing efficient drugs that target the underlying causative pathways”.

Better prevention

In the long run, the blood test method might allow ”better prevention and thus at least postponement of the illness”, the scientists’ press release states.

A more optimistic take on the implications of the findings even suggests that the development of the disease could be prevented altogether.

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