Can Chromatography Identify Alzheimer's Before Symptoms Appear?
Feb 17 2021
Watching loved ones fall under the grasp of dementia is heart-breaking as familiar family and friends slowly drift away from us. The number of people with dementia is expected to grow both in the UK and globally – from 50m now to over 150m in 2050. This will have a massive impact both emotionally and financially as the cost of dementia in the UK is expected to double in the next 25 years.
A paper recently published in Brain reports on work carried out by researchers that could help identify and treat Alzheimer’s disease earlier. The paper - Population-based blood screening for preclinical Alzheimer’s disease in a British birth cohort at age 70 – reports on how a blood test could identify people who are in the earliest stages of the disease before any of the usual symptoms appear. The team used a liquid chromatography method to help in the identification of amyloids in blood plasma which could help identify Alzheimer’s disease patients.
Helping to identify Alzheimer’s disease earlier
Most cases of dementia are due to a few diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies. Currently there are no cures for dementia and treatments are aimed at alleviating symptoms using drugs, better care, and psychological therapies. As well as searching for a potential cure, research has also focussed on a test for Alzheimer’s disease. In a press release, Professor Jonathan Schott said,
“Current evidence suggests that the brain changes leading to Alzheimer’s disease start many years before symptoms. Identifying individuals at risk opens a window of opportunity to offer treatments to prevent the onset of cognitive decline.”
Chromatography measures the amyloids
The researchers used samples from a cohort of 400 people who were all born in the same week in 1946 and did not have dementia. The cohort had amyloid PET scans and blood tests to measure the proteins of interest in the samples. Amyloids build up has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The team used three different methods to measure the proteins in the blood samples including liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. The use of LC-MS as a therapeutic instrument is discussed in the article, LC-MS Analysis of Therapeutic Oligonucleotide and Related Products. A comparison of TQ and Q-TOF Systems.
Being able to identify potential sufferers by using a simple blood test could help identify potential sufferers. Currently, time consuming and costly PET scans are needed to identify potential sufferers which increases the cost and effort of recruiting people to clinical trials. The work carried out shows that using blood tests could reduce the number of PET scans by half. Dr Keshavan, the paper’s first author said,
“In due course blood tests have the potential to revolutionise how we diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, allowing access to better diagnostic tests in the community, and particularly in settings where more expensive PET scans and lumbar puncture tests are not currently available thus making access to any new treatments and support more equitable.”
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