Researchers at the Seoul National University (SNU) in South Korea have reportedly developed a new technology for a series of blood tests designed to predict Alzheimer’s disease before the appearance of symptoms.
While the exact cause of the disease is not known, it is believed to occur due to the build-up of a beta-amyloid protein that is considered toxic to the neurons.
The existing techniques for the detection of amyloid plaques include positron emission tomography (PET) scans that are reported to be expensive and distressing to a patient.
Designed to predict the amyloid PET test result with 90% accuracy, the new SNU technology is said to require only a small blood sample, reported Korea Biomedical Review (KBR).
According to South Korea Ministry of Science and ICT, the technology is expected to enable cost reduction, while its ability to allow early screening and prediction could potentially prevent the disease.
The technology uses a combination of protease inhibitors and phosphatase inhibitors (MPP) to stabilise beta-amyloid levels in the blood for obtaining accurate results.
Additionally, the researchers have found four protein biomarkers and four other blood factors that are associated with beta-amyloid deposition.
Seoul National University professor Mook In-hee was quoted by KBR as saying: “While most dementia diagnostic techniques distinguish between symptomatic and demented patients, the technology developed by our research team is different in that it can predict Alzheimer’s disease from a normal, non-symptomatic stage.”
The university has licensed the technology to biotech firm Medifron DBT in the country and intends to co-develop diagnostics kit and computing algorithm required to commercialise the technology.