Can a simple test predict Alzheimer’s? Professor Dan Berlau’s answer may surprise you

Alzheimer’s is a tough disease. It steals good years from those who suffer from it and takes an emotional toll on their caregivers. Even worse – it’s nearly impossible to predict when someone will get it.

Until now.

A recent study published in Nature Medicine and co-authored by Dan Berlau, an assistant professor in Regis’ Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, suggests that Alzheimer’s can be predicted with a relatively simple blood test.

“This study is important because there are lots of drug therapies for Alzheimer’s, but they’ve been shown to be ineffective if the person receives them after showing symptoms,” Berlau said. “So in theory, if we can identify the disease earlier and begin treating it, we can help prevent or delay the disease.”

This groundbreaking study was conducted over a three-year period, during which time healthy seniors had blood drawn and participated in cognitive tests. The researchers analyzed thousands of markers in the blood, including gene expression, proteins and lipids, as well as cognitive deterioration in the subjects. They found that 90 percent of the time subjects with certain levels of specific lipids showed signs of Alzheimer’s within two to three years.
As with all studies, the science needs to be replicated and evaluated. But Berlau is hopeful that in the next 5 to 10 years, doctors will be able to administer the test and that the elderly and their families will have more quality years together.  

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