A group of researchers from Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine told audience attending the American Osteopathic Association’s meeting in Orlando that their newly-designed blood test may soon detect Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Robert Nagele, senior researcher involved in the study, explained that his team’s work was based on detecting autoantibodies created by the body when the disease emerges.
Autoantibodies, which attack the body’s own healthy cells and tissue, can be used as biomarkers to signal many types of diseases including breast cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s, researchers noted.
The team now hopes that their blood test may soon detect Alzheimer’s disease at an earlier stage and help patient make the necessary lifestyle changes that may prevent the condition from further developing.
Dr. Nagele argued that Alzheimer’s disease and vascular diseases have many things in common including similar risk factors. As a result, patients can improve their vascular health through diet, physical activity, weight control, and blood pressure management to slow down Alzheimer’s progression.
Nevertheless, there isn’t yet a scientific consensus on what causes Alzheimer’s, but doctors and researchers do agree that watching one’s blood-brain barrier may prevent the disease.
Type 2 diabetes, risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and elevated bad cholesterol levels can wreak havoc with vascular health. These risk factors make blood vessels in the brain become frailer and affected by micro-lesions which allow autoantibodies to enter brain tissue. From that point on, autoantibodies attack brain cells and boost beta amyloid levels, which is an early sign of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers explained that everyone’s body has autoantibodies, which freely travel within the bloodstream all over the body. As people age or get sick the autoantibody profile changes. Alzheimer’s and other diseases also change the profile, so researchers can use a blood test to ‘read’ any changes in the autoantibody profile that may signal the presence of disease.
Alzheimer’s is very hard to detect because the brain is damaged long before symptoms emerge. If patients learn earlier that they have the disease they may work with their doctors to improve their brain health and be treated accordingly. Study authors believe that early prevention may help patients avoid Alzheimer’s or at least delay it.
Dr. Jennifer Caudle of Rowan University said that people usually ignore diet and exercise recommendations from their doctors unless there is a major health crisis. Caudle noted that none of her Alzheimer’s patients would ignore such advice if they had the opportunity to stave off disease in its early stages.
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