Inherited forms of Alzheimer's disease could be identified some 20 years before any cognitive difficulties develop, scientists believe.
Results from the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer's Network (DIAN) study suggest that changes in the levels of biological markers in spinal fluid can be detected years before the onset of dementia.
Early detection of the neurodegenerative condition is vital for treatments to improve.
Many scientists believe that by the time Alzheimer's symptoms manifest themselves, the brain has already been damaged extensively, which makes it near impossible to restore cognitive functions.
Randall Bateman, of Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, said: "Based on what we see in our population, brain chemistry changes can be detected up to 20 years before the expected age of symptomatic onset."
Meanwhile, researchers from the university have revealed that participants who had brain changes characteristic of early Alzheimer's disease could be more vulnerable to falling.
Find the nearest Barchester care home