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Blood test predicting onset of Alzheimer’s discovered, say researchers

7 September 2015

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A blood test could be used to identify people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease who have not yet developed symptoms, new research suggests.

Scientists at King’s College London have identified a set of genes that must function properly for ‘healthy ageing’ in 65-year-olds. The effectiveness of those genes can be turned into a ‘healthy age gene score’ and the lower the score the more likely the disease is present or will develop.

The test will help doctors decide which middle-aged subjects could be offered preventative therapies before the first symptoms of dementia appear, the authors said.

Reflecting on the findings, James Timmons, lead author from King’s College London, said that this test “should be able to transform the way that ‘age’ is used to make medical decisions”.

“This includes identifying those more likely to be at risk of Alzheimer’s, as catching those at ‘early’ risk is key to evaluating potential treatments. This also provides strong evidence that dementia in humans could be called a type of ‘accelerated ageing,” he added.

The researchers found big differences in the age scores of people born within a year of each other, suggesting that ‘biological age’ differs considerably from ‘chronological age’.

The seven-year collaborative study was conducted between King’s College London, Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Duke University in the USA.

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