Alzheimer's may be detectable earlier than thought: science

Researchers said Tuesday they had seen the earliest-ever warning signs of Alzheimer's Disease -- among a high-risk group of 20-somethings -- in the ongoing quest for early detection and prevention.

A major problem in the search for a cure for this debilitating form of dementia is that symptoms appear years after irreversible brain decay has already set in.

For the study, a team of scientists from the United States and Colombia tested 18- to 26-year-old members of an extended Colombian family that share a common ancestor and a genetic predisposition to develop an inherited form of Alzheimer's.

One in three members of the clan carry a gene mutation that will lead to a rare form of the disease which hits people in their 40s, unlike the common variant which presents much later.

A brain scan comparison found that individuals who carry the errant gene have less grey matter in certain areas of the brain than those who don't, scientists wrote in The Lancet medical journal.

They also found that those with the mutation had higher levels in their cerebrospinal fluid of a protein called amyloid beta, implicated in the plaque build-ups found on the brains of Alzheimer's sufferers.

The findings "suggest that neurodegenerative changes occur more than 20 years before symptom onset and somewhat earlier than was suggested by findings from previous MRI studies," Nick Fox of the University College London's Dementia Research Centre said in a comment on the study.

Alzheimer's disease causes two-thirds of dementia cases -- attacking one in 200 people -- and the rate is increasing as the world's population ages.

Trial participants, 20 with the fateful gene mutation and 24 without, were not told whether they had it or not. All had normal cognitive abilities at the time of the study.

"The findings... could ultimately lead to improved early detection and better clinical trials of preventative treatments," The Lancet said in a statement.

But the outcome also raises questions about scientists' understanding of how Alzheimer's progresses.

"These findings... raise new questions about the earliest brain changes involved in the predisposition to Alzheimer's and the extent to which they could be targeted by future prevention therapies," research leader Eric Reiman from the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Arizona said.

Scientists still do not know quite what to make of the plaques and tangles that German doctor Alois Alzheimer first spotted in the brain of a dementia patient who died in 1906.

They disagree on the respective roles of beta amyloid plaque build-ups and of a protein called tau which forms tangles inside the brain cells.

Most test therapies have targeted beta amyloids, but some now suggest it is actually tau killing the brain cells.

According to Fox, the new study questioned existing models of Alzheimer's Disease "on several fronts".

Among other things, "neurodegeneration would seem to be occurring in advance of evidence of plaque deposition", widely thought to cause the brain damage.

Fox said the results should be treated with caution as the trial sample was small and the outcome may not apply to the much more common sporadic, late-onset form of Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) projects the number of people with dementia will rise from 35.6 million in 2010 to 65.7 million by 2030 and 115.4 million by 2050.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippine leader says 'worst airport' now looking much better
    Philippine leader says 'worst airport' now looking much better

    President Benigno Aquino Wednesday hailed renovations to the Philippines' main international airport, expressing optimism it would soon shake off its ranking on one website as the world's worst airport. Almost a year after he personally apologised for the failure of air-conditioning at Terminal 1 of Manila's international airport, Aquino said the facility appeared to be completely different. "It is like I have entered a completely different airport," he told reporters as he inspected the …

  • Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon Avenue
    Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon Avenue

    Volkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, which is now the automotive row of Northern Metro Manila.At the Innauguration was Chief Operating Adviser Klaus Schadewald, Branch Manager Bob Anthony Palanca, Volkswagen Philippines: President and CEO John Philip Orbeta and General Manager Nemesio Solomon, Jr. This new showroom has the latest Volkswagen Interactive Showroom applications. ... …

  • The Race to Global Greatness - YGP6
    The Race to Global Greatness - YGP6

    Yamaha Motor Philippines (YMPH) recently held the first leg of the Yamaha Grand Prix 6 at the SM Sta. Rosa compound in Laguna. The racing categories for this year are the following: Automatic Inter-Club RaceUnderbone Inter-Club Race115 Superstock ATVega Force i SuperstockSniper 150 Open UB130 Open UBMio 125 MX i …

  • Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon AvenueVolkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, …
    Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon AvenueVolkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, …

    Volkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, which is now the automotive row of Northern Metro Manila.At the Innauguration was Chief Operating Adviser Klaus Schadewald, Branch Manager Bob Anthony Palanca, Volkswagen Philippines: President and CEO John Philip Orbeta and General Manager Nemesio Solomon, Jr. This new showroom has the latest Volkswagen Interactive Showroom applications. ... …

  • Nissan launches its “Virtual to Reality” GT Academy here in the Philippines
    Nissan launches its “Virtual to Reality” GT Academy here in the Philippines

    The Filipino Gran Turismo gamer just became eligible to become a Pro Race Car driver as Nissan Philippines Inc. launched its GT Academy here in the Philippines. The object is to find the best Grand Turismo players in both the online qualification process and participating in the live events after which they’ll compete with each other in National Finals to see who gets to attend the 3 month Race camp.  The winner gets to stay in the UK near Silverstone and will take part in UK national and club …

  • Osmeña wants electricity exempted from VAT
    Osmeña wants electricity exempted from VAT

    Sen. Sergio Osmeña III wants electricity to be exempted from value added tax under a proposed measure that will amend the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 and the Reformed VAT Law. He said the move aims to ease the burden of the public in paying high electricity rates in the country. “VAT on electricity is another burden on the already over-taxed shoulders of our people, especially those whose incomes are barely enough to cover their basic needs. Osmeña, chairman of the Senate …

  • No lotto draws starting tomorrow until Easter Sunday
    No lotto draws starting tomorrow until Easter Sunday

    No lotto tickets will be sold and no lotto draws made starting tomorrow, Maundy Thursday, up to Easter Sunday in observance of Holy Week. In a statement, Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, acting Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman and general manager, said the selling of lotto tickets and lotto draws will resume on April 6,  Monday. “We thank all Lotto players for your trust and confidence in the PCSO games, and we count on your continued support of our efforts to raise funds for …

  • Quake rocks C. Visayas
    Quake rocks C. Visayas

    A magnitude-3.2 earthquake rocked parts of Central Visayas yesterday. State seismologists said the quake was an aftershock of a powerful tremor that hit the region in 2013. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the quake occurred at 7:54 a.m. Its epicenter was located 10 kilometers  southeast of Buenavista, Bohol. Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said the quake was an aftershock of the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol on Oct. 15, 2013. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options