Sunday, August 30, 2020

Most common cause of dementia in older adults

With the aging of the U.S. population, the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease continues to rise. The disease is currently the most common cause of dementia in older adults. Brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s include abnormal clumps (amyloid-β plaques), tangled bundles of fibers (tau tangles), and the eventual death of nerve cells.
These changes can lead to a progressive decline in memory and thinking skills. Treatments don’t yet exist to slow or reverse Alzheimer’s disease progression. Researchers are working to test new therapies in clinical trials. But no blood tests can currently diagnose Alzheimer’s before symptoms develop. 

This complicates studies of early treatments or preventive strategies. In the first study, researchers led by Dr. Oskar Hansson from Lund University in Sweden tested blood samples from three studies comprising about 1,400 people. 

These included people with known Alzheimer’s and other dementias, as well as those without cognitive problems. The team found that ptau217 measurements were almost 90% accurate at distinguishing people who later had Alzheimer’s damage found in their brains after death.

Blood measurements of ptau217 were also about 90% accurate at distinguishing people who later developed symptoms of dementia. In both study groups, ptau217 was better than ptau181 — and as good as PET imaging and CSF testing — at pinpointing Alzheimer’s development.

Read the full report here at the National Institute on Aging