Gene tests and brain imaging reveal early dementia

Mar 06, 2007

Dementia diseases develop insidiously and are generally discovered when the memory has already started to deteriorate. New research form Karolinska Institutet shows, however, that approaching Alzheimer's can be detected several years before the symptoms manifest themselves.

Dementia involves a serious deterioration of mental function caused by some kind of dementia disease of the brain, of which Alzheimer's is the most common. Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's, it is possible to inhibit its development if the treatment is given early enough. However, with today's diagnostics, it is very difficult to identify people with early Alzheimer's.

A new doctoral thesis by Johanna Lind, Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, now shows that genetic mapping and brain imagery can be used to identify people who will develop dementia even before any clinical symptoms appear.

"This is a crucial step towards the better diagnosis of Alzheimer's," she says. "If the method is developed it can help us find the people who'd benefit most from treatment in good time."

The method is based on the well-established fact that the APOE protein affects the risk of developing Alzheimer's. APOE is a lipid-transporting protein important in, amongst other things, the repair of cerebral neurons. Roughly one person in five carries a genetically determined variant of APOE that is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's.

In her study, Johanna Lind was able to show that some of the people in this risk group had reduced parietal lobe activity, detectable using an MR camera, and that these same people were the ones who went on to suffer memory deterioration two to three years later.

"It's surprisingly difficult to diagnose Alzheimer's with any certainty, but things are made easier if you know who runs the greatest risk," she says. "If genetic mapping, MRI and cognitive tests all suggest approaching Alzheimer's, it might be an idea to start a course of treatment."

Source: Karolinska Institutet

Explore further: The effects of rapid diagnostic tests for malaria in African healthcare settings

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Look after your brain

Feb 20, 2011

As the average life span becomes longer, dementia becomes more common. Swedish scientist Laura Fratiglioni has shown that everyone can minimize his or her risk of being affected. Factors from blood pressure and weight to ...

Vitamin B12 may reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease

Oct 18, 2010

A new study shows that vitamin B12 may protect against Alzheimer's disease, adding more evidence to the scientific debate about whether the vitamin is effective in reducing the risk of memory loss. The research will be published ...

High blood levels of vitamin E reduces risk of Alzheimer's

Jul 05, 2010

High levels of several vitamin E components in the blood are associated with a decreased risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD) in advanced age, suggesting that vitamin E may help prevent cognitive deterioration in elderly people. ...

Lower risk of dementia for married or cohabiting people

Jul 03, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- People who live alone have twice the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease in later life compared with married or cohabiting people, according to a research study led by Miia Kivipelto from ...

Fast-food linked to Alzheimer's: Swedish scientists

Nov 28, 2008

Mice that were fed a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol for nine months developed a preliminary stage of the morbid irregularities that form in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. The study results, published in a doctoral ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

14 hours ago

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...

Tracking flu levels with Wikipedia

14 hours ago

Can monitoring Wikipedia hits show how many people have the flu? Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital, USA, have developed a method of estimating levels of influenza-like illness in the American population by analysing ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Diagnosing and treating autism

April is National Autism Awareness Month. The Child Development Clinic at Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) provides comprehensive assessment for pediatric patients with developmental delays or disabilities, including ...

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin

(Phys.org) —Ever-shrinking electronic devices could get down to atomic dimensions with the help of transition metal oxides, a class of materials that seems to have it all: superconductivity, magnetoresistance ...