Thursday, August 1, 2013

Blood Tests for Alzheimer's - Diagnosing The Illness Sooner?


 It is a commonly known fact that while we can actively diagnose Alzheimer’s, there is still no cure for the devastating illness that affects so many families.

A recent study done by researchers at Saarland University and Siemen’s healthcare, tested blood samples looking for differing variants in Alzheimer’s patients when compared to “healthy” individuals.  Using 48 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and 22 “healthy” controls, this group of researchers looked for any level changes in the pool of patient’s miRNA.  An miRNA is described as a “ small, RNA molecule encoded in the genomes of plants and animals” as stated by invitrogen.com.  

Their results found that patients with the illness had 12 miRNA that differed significantly from the “healthy” controls.  Thus showing that blood tests could have the potential to identify Alzheimer’s early on.  This in turn gives the patient the ability to be treated for the illness earlier, and treatment can be administered before the brain begins to permanently deteriorate.

Though researchers found that it was tough to decipher this influx in miRNA’s from other neurological disorders, it is still a step in the right direction.  With “4.6 million new cases (of Alzheimer’s and Dementia) diagnosed each year” according to Alzheimersresearchuk.org, there has never been a better time for groundbreaking discoveries like this one.

While many family members are thrown into a caregiver role due to late diagnosis of the disease, it is tough to make such an immense lifestyle change so rapidly.  Through the findings of this study, we are now starting to be given the ability to pinpoint the disease earlier, giving ease to family members struggling with loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.


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