A simple blood test to diagnose the onset of Alzheimer's disease could be one step closer, according to new research from Cardiff University.
The study, funded by the Alzheimer's Society, involved experts from Cardiff University, King's College London and the University of Oxford.
Researchers observed blood from nearly 300 people who had displayed the earliest signs of memory impairment. They analysed a large number of proteins in the immune system that are known to drive inflammation and have been linked to brain diseases. The team found a set of biomarkers within these proteins that could predict whether or not a person would develop Alzheimer's disease.
Participants were assessed a year after the blood samples were collected and one in four had Alzheimer's disease. The researchers found that three of the proteins measured in their blood showed significant differences from the samples of the people who did not develop the disease.
Professor Paul Morgan, director of Cardiff University's Systems Immunity Research Institute, said the research proves it's possible to predict whether or not an individual with mild memory problems is likely to develop Alzheimer's disease over the next few years.
"We hope to build on this in order to develop a simple blood test that can predict the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease in older people with mild, and possibly innocent, memory impairment," he added.
These new findings are exciting and have led to more research being carried out by the Wellcome Trust and several UK Universities to try and replicate these outcomes and potentially develop a blood test.
As Alzheimer's disease affects around 520,000 people in the UK, it's important that new ways are identified to diagnose the disease early, Professor Morgan explained, as this gives people the chance to receive treatment before irreversible damage is done.