Australian scientists are much closer to developing a screening test for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, the leading cause of dementia.
A quarter of a million Australians currently suffer from dementia and given our ageing population, this is predicted to increase to one million by 2050.
Researchers identified blood-based biological markers that are associated with the build up of amyloid beta, a toxic protein in the brain, which occurs years before symptoms appear and irreversible brain damage has occurred.
“Early detection is critical, giving those at risk a much better chance of receiving treatment earlier, before it’s too late to do much about it,” said Dr Samantha Burnham from CSIRO’s Preventative Health Flagship.
This research is just one part of the Australian Imaging and Biomarkers Lifestyle Study of Aging (AIBL), a longitudinal study in conjunction with research partners from Austin Health, Edith Cowan University, the Florey Institute of Neurosciences and Mental Health and the National Aging Research Institute. The AIBL study aims to discover which biomarkers, cognitive characteristics and health and lifestyle factors are linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Another recent study from the AIBL team showed that amyloid beta levels become abnormal about 17 years before dementia symptoms appear,” said Dr Burnham. “This gives us a much longer time to intervene to try to slow disease progression if we are able to detect cases early.
“We hope our continued research will lead to the development of a low cost, minimally invasive population based screening test for Alzheimer’s in the next five to ten years. A blood test would be the ideal first stage to help identify many more people at risk before a diagnosis is confirmed more specialised testing.”
The results have been published today in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
The AIBL study is supported by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF).
Media: Andreas Kahl, Andreas.Kahl@csiro.au Phone: (08) 8303 8888 Mobile: 0407 751 330
6th May 2013 at 12:06 pm
Is it possible to obtain this test anywhere currently?
7th May 2013 at 9:56 am
The blood test is still in development, we’re hoping it may be available in 5-10 years.
You can visit the Alzheimer’s Australia website for more information on dementia and the diagnostic tests that are currently available: http://www.fightdementia.org.au/understanding-dementia/how-can-i-find-out-more.aspx
2nd May 2013 at 1:31 pm
The threshold values for memory and cognition testing by your local GP are worthless. I know I have significant cognitive decline, and bench mark myself constantly using Lumosity. If you’ve come from a fairly high function level then it’s probably more noticeable than for those who never relied on any measure of intellectual flexibility in the first place. I can’t afford testing to look for Amyloidosis or any of the related precursors to Alzheimer’s. I will simply opt out when I can no longer disguise the level of dysfunction
1st May 2013 at 6:05 pm
Are CSIRO looking for a Global Diagnostic Supplier partnership to take this test into the pathology laboratory? I can help. Martin
2nd May 2013 at 11:43 am
Thanks for your interest. We’ll get in touch with the researchers and let you know as soon as possible.
1st May 2013 at 5:38 pm
Do you need people to help with the research??
2nd May 2013 at 11:39 am
The AIBL team are still looking to recruit volunteers in Melbourne and Perth. You can find further details here: http://www.aibl.csiro.au/about/recruitment (please note the eligibility criteria).
Alzheimer’s Australia also have a number of studies where volunteers can participate in the research: http://www.fightdementia.org.au/research-publications/research-projects-in-australia.aspx
1st May 2013 at 4:51 pm
Hi there, so do you need people for blood testing during this research?
2nd May 2013 at 9:27 am
Thanks for your interest in our research. This particular study used existing samples and data from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle (AIBL) study of ageing – they aren’t looking for more blood samples at this stage. AIBL are interesting in recruiting volunteers in Melbourne and Perth though. You can find further details here: http://www.aibl.csiro.au/about/recruitment (please note the eligibility criteria).
For further information on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, you can visit the Alzheimer’s Australia website: http://www.fightdementia.org.au/default.aspx