Brain Health: January/February 2023

Breakthrough Blood Test Could Detect Alzheimer’s Years Before Symptoms Show

Sam Blanchard

Nov. 10, 2022 ( – A blood test detecting Alzheimer’s years before symptoms show is moving closer, a study suggests.

It follows a breakthrough in identifying chemicals linked to mild cognitive impairment — an early sign of the memory-stealing disease.

And testing for them could lead to patients having drugs or lifestyle changes prescribed early.

The latest discovery is from tests that identified two rogue proteins in the brains of those with mild cognitive impairment.

This is a transitional stage between normal ageing and dementia, leading to minor memory lapses that sometimes become more serious.

The proteins show up in plasma, the yellowish liquid that carries blood cells around the body.

It means these biomarkers might be spotted with a simple blood test rather than other invasive and costly techniques.

At present, PET (positron emission tomography) scans are required for clinical diagnosis of dementia (ADRD) or spinal lumbar punctures.

Researcher Prof Bin Xu, of Central University, North Carolina, US, said: “Our work provides a new avenue for developing diagnosis and differentiation tools for Alzheimer’s.

“This could help clinicians intervene early.”

Tettnang, a type of hop grown in Germany and found in amber and light lagers, was the best at clearing the dangerous plaques.

These beers also contained high levels of a certain antibiotic which is thought to reduce inflammation in the brain and can have beneficial effects in people with Alzheimer’s disease, the experts said.

But the researchers were quick to point out that their study might not justify drinking more beer, as boozing is also a factor for Alzheimer’s.

In the US, it’s estimated that more than 6million Americans have the illness – with 73 per cent of these being aged 75 or over.

Around 900,000 people in the UK have dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease causing two in three cases.

It is incurable and often begins with forgetfulness and confusion before severe brain damage leads to mental and physical disability –and ultimately death.