More accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer's

April 19, 2011

A new study from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows how analysing spinal fluid can help to detect Alzheimer's disease at an early stage. The researchers behind the study hope that their findings will contribute to a greater international breakthrough for this type of diagnostic method.

It all comes down to biomarkers, substances that are found at abnormally high or low levels in patients who go on to develop Alzheimer's. The most common biomarkers to be identified by the researchers in the spinal fluid of patients with Alzheimer's are proteins and – short chains of amino acids.

"What's new about our study is that the biomarkers are really good, better than in the past, as the study was carried out extremely carefully with suitable participants via clinical trials and well implemented and controlled laboratory analyses," says docent Johan Svensson, who is working with professor Kaj Blennow's research group at the Sahlgrenska Academy, which has long been involved in researching the development of these biomarkers and advocating their use.

A total of 60 patients who were being investigated for dementia took part in the study, along with 20 healthy controls.

"We measured levels of the biomarkers in the spinal fluid and found that high levels of these substances confirmed the diagnosis of Alzheimer's with a high degree of accuracy compared with levels in healthy controls and patients with other forms of dementia," says Svensson.

"We also saw that patients who hadn't yet met all the clinical criteria for Alzheimer's had similar levels of the biomarkers in their spinal fluid to patients who had developed the disease fully."

The research group therefore concludes that these measurements can also be used to identify Alzheimer's during the early stages of the disease. In such cases, the biomarkers can be used to identify those patients with mild symptoms who are most likely to benefit from treatment.

"If a medication that affects the course of the disease does become available, it will probably be most effective during the early stages, and these biomarkers could be used in the development of such a medication," says Svensson.

The study will be published in the Journal of .

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Anti-malaria drug shows promise as Zika virus treatment

November 17, 2017
A new collaborative study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) and UC San Diego School of Medicine has found that a medication used to prevent and treat malaria may also be effective ...

Decrease in sunshine, increase in Rickets

November 17, 2017
A University of Toronto student and professor have teamed up to discover that Britain's increasing cloudiness during the summer could be an important reason for the mysterious increase in Rickets among British children over ...

Scientists identify biomarkers that indicate likelihood of survival in infected patients

November 17, 2017
Scientists have identified a set of biomarkers that indicate which patients infected with the Ebola virus are most at risk of dying from the disease.

Research team unlocks secrets of Ebola

November 16, 2017
In a comprehensive and complex molecular study of blood samples from Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, published today (Nov. 16, 2017) in Cell Host and Microbe, a scientific team led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison has ...

Study raises possibility of naturally acquired immunity against Zika virus

November 16, 2017
Birth defects in babies born infected with Zika virus remain a major health concern. Now, scientists suggest the possibility that some women in high-risk Zika regions may already be protected and not know it.

A structural clue to attacking malaria's 'Achilles heel'

November 16, 2017
Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and PATH's Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) have shed light on how the human immune system recognizes the malaria parasite though investigation of antibodies generated ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.