A team of researchers at the Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen (DZNE) and University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) in Germany have detected molecules in the blood that can show signs of imminent dementia.
The researchers aim to create a low-cost blood test that is simple to use in regular medical care to evaluate any risk of dementia.
The biomarker detected by the team is based on assessing micro ribonucleic acids (microRNAs) in the blood.
Given that microRNAs are molecules with regulatory properties, and can impact protein production, they play a vital role in the metabolism of all living organisms.
Scientists carried out broad studies in humans, mice and cell cultures and detected three microRNAs that could be linked to mental performance.
The research data found that microRNAs could become the targets for dementia treatment.
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UMG Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy professor André Fischer said that the team sees increased blood levels of these ‘three microRNAs as a harbinger of dementia’.
Fischer further noted: “When symptoms of dementia manifest, the brain has already been massively damaged.
“If dementia is detected early, the odds of positively influencing the course of the disease increase.
“We need tests that ideally respond before the onset of dementia and reliably estimate the risk of later disease.”
The marker needs additional testing, as the existing assessment method is considered highly complex for practical purposes.
The scientists noted that the test will be validated clinically in further studies.
Similar to the rapid Covid-19 test, researchers plan to develop a blood test for use in point-of-care analysis.
The test, which would potentially require a drop of blood, could be used during routine medical check-ups to identify increased dementia risk at an early stage.
People with suspicious results could then be put through further tests.