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A computed-tomography scan of a brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia. Credit: Vsevolod Zviryk/Science Photo Library
An analysis of around 1,500 blood proteins has identified biomarkers that can be used to predict the risk of developing dementia up to 15 years before diagnosis.
The findings, reported today in Nature Aging1, are a step towards blood tests that can detect Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia at a very early, pre-symptomatic stage — which scientists have been in search of for decades.
Researchers screened blood samples from more than 50,000 healthy adults in the UK Biobank, 1,417 of whom developed dementia in a 14-year period.
They found that high blood levels of four proteins — GFAP, NEFL, GDF15 and LTBP2 — were strongly associated with dementia.