Scientists have discovered molecules in blood that can detect dementia up to two years before it occurs. This allows for a quick diagnosis using a blood test.
Researchers at the University Medical Center Gottingen and the DZNE discovered a biomarker that measures levels of microRNAs. These microRNAs influence the production and metabolism of all living organisms.
The technique is still not practical for use. Scientists aim to create a simple, low cost blood test similar to the SARS-CoV-2 rapid test. This can be used in routine medical care to assess the risk of dementia.
The study data presented in the scientific journal EMBO Molecular Medicine suggests that microRNAs may also be potential targets for dementia therapy.
“The brain is already severely damaged by dementia symptoms. Unfortunately, effective treatment is not possible if the diagnosis is made too late. “If dementia is diagnosed early, the chances of positively influencing its course increase,” stated Andre Fischer, Professor at UMG’s Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy.
We need tests that can respond to dementia symptoms before they occur and accurately estimate the likelihood of developing later diseases. Also, early warning tests are needed. Fischer said that they are confident in the future, based on our current study results.”
The researchers discovered three microRNAs that were linked to mental performance through extensive research in mice, humans, and cell cultures.
They analyzed data from both cognitively healthy young people and those with mild cognitive impairment in the elderly to determine which was most relevant.
These findings revealed that microRNA levels were positively correlated with mental health in healthy people.
Subjects who had a lower blood level performed better in cognitive tests. This score was also higher in mice than it was in humans, regardless of whether the rodents had a mental decline or if they were experiencing symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s.
About 90 percent of those with a high blood marker developed Alzheimer’s disease in the first two years.
Fischer stated that an increase in blood levels of the three microRNAs is a sign of dementia.
“We believe that this biomarker in humans indicates a development that is approximately two to five years away.”