Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have identified some distinctive proteins in the blood of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that could be used to diagnose the condition more effectively.
Doctors generally diagnose AD only by eliminating other possible causes of mental decline. Only after a patient dies can surgeons examine brain tissue to look for the protein plaques and tangles that are the hallmark of the disease.
Researchers are trying to change that situation by finding biomarkers. The Stanford team reported the discovery of 18 proteins that together seemed fairly diagnostic of AD. If the biomarkers are confirmed by more rigorous testing, they could result in a simple blood test to diagnose the disease. Patients could then take medications to delay the effects of AD.
Scientists are using spinal taps or high-powered imaging studies on living patients, although examining the blood is easier and may be less expensive than those methods.
(Sources: Nature News, October 2007; Nature Med, October 14,