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Alzheimer’s Research: Can It Be Diagnosed with a Blood Test?

By the time symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear, the damage done to the brain is so severe that there is little doctors can do to slow the progression of the disease process. However, physicians from Gottingen, Germany report that a newly developed method of testing may detect the disease a decade or more before symptoms appear. This test would enable Alzheimer’s caregivers in The Grand Strand to get their loved ones the help they need well before symptoms manifest.

Alzheimer’s occurs when amyloid beta-peptide proteins change structure by folding abnormally and clumping together to form plaques in the body and brain. This action causes abnormal structural changes in brain tissues. The physiological process begins more than 15 years before obvious dementia symptoms appear. Up until now, the only means of locating the amyloid plaques required seniors to undergo positron emission tomography or PET scans. However, the test is expensive and subjects seniors to radiation.

PhD candidates Andreas Nabers and Jonas Schartner found a way to detect irregular amyloid beta peptides in body fluids using a specially developed infrared sensor. After the procedure successfully detected the proteins in cerebrospinal fluid, professors and physicians Jens Wiltfang and Klaus Gerwert decided to expand the test’s capabilities to include detection in blood. In this way, researchers might be able to observe the transformation between normal and abnormal amyloid proteins in addition to their distribution.

Using this innovative method, Gertwert and Wiltfang evaluated blood samples from more than 140 individuals. The diagnostic process accurately detected Alzheimer 84 percent of the time in blood samples and 90 percent of the time in cerebrospinal fluid. The test results indicate that blood testing has the potential for detecting abnormal amyloid beta peptides before seniors require medications, treatments, or dementia care in The Grand Strand. Using the infrared sensing system represents a milestone in the Alzheimer’s diagnostic process, although further research is currently underway. At present, scientists are using the newly developed sensor procedure to study blood samples obtained from 800 study volunteers.

Once blood testing has been fine-tuned, doctors may be able to test for Alzheimer’s before the disease manifests, allowing The Grand Strand home care providers to plan for the road ahead. Home Care Assistance of The Grand Strand helps seniors manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia by offering safety monitoring, transportation to and from medical appointments, and discreet personal care assistance throughout each stage of the disease. Learn more about our compassionate Alzheimer’s home care by calling (843) 353-3105 today to schedule a free in-home consultation.