A Blood Test for Alzheimer’s?

Circulating microRNAs could help doctors diagnose the neurodegenerative disease.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Jul 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...

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