A Blood Test for Alzheimer’s?

Circulating microRNAs could help doctors diagnose the neurodegenerative disease.

By | July 30, 2013

PET scans showing the differances between a normal older adult's brain (left) and the brain of an older adult afflicted with Alzheimer's disease (right)WIKIMEDIAA new test predicts Alzheimer’s disease with 93 percent accuracy, according to a study published in Genome Biology. Testing the blood of 202 people for 140 different microRNAs (miRNAs), a team of researchers at Saarland University, in Germany, identified 12 RNA fragments circulating at consistently different levels in healthy people and patients with Alzheimer’s, BBC News reported.

The neurodegeneration associated with the disease starts years before symptoms of dementia appear, and the test’s high degree of accuracy could help doctors diagnose the disease before large brain regions are damaged. “This is an interesting approach to studying changes in blood in Alzheimer's and suggests that microRNAs could be playing a role in the disease,” Eric Karran, of the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, told the BBC, though he added that “the translation of this into a blood test for Alzheimer's in the clinic is still some way off. . . . We need to see these findings confirmed in larger samples, and more work is needed to improve the test’s ability to distinguish Alzheimer’s from other neurological conditions.”

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Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 476

July 30, 2013

In my model, the microRNA/messenger RNA balance is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled. The epigenetic landscape becomes the physical landscape of DNA via the thermodynamics of intercellular signaling and intranuclear interactions. The result is nutrient-stress driven and social stress-driven alternative splicings that may initially benefit organism-level thermoregulation via creation of de novo olfactory receptor genes.

Increasing the number of olfactory receptor genes enables increased nutrient uptake. However, ongoing nutrient stress and/or social stress alter genetic predispositions for Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases that until now have manifested themselves first in reduced olfactory acuity.  This suggests to me that the role of the microRNAs might best be assessed in concert with smell testing to arrive more quickly at differential diagnoses in the future.

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