New finding offers fresh hope for early Alzheimer’s diagnosis

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In a new study, researchers have discovered a new biomarker that could be used to detect Alzheimer’s disease decades before symptoms emerge.

The research was conducted by a global team of researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) and elsewhere.

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 340,000 Australians and it is well documented that early diagnosis is the best hope for effective treatment.

The study examined the pattern of ‘tau’ protein build-up in the brains of 370 people with an inherited form of Alzheimer’s disease.

Tau and another protein called beta-amyloid are known to be closely associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease, a form of brain degeneration.

The researchers found tau build-up occurs very early in Alzheimer’s disease and follows a distinct pattern as the disease progresses.

They say this ground-breaking discovery had the potential to pave the way for new treatments and early diagnosis for this deadly disease.

Scientists can potentially pinpoint the onset of Alzheimer’s very early on even before any brain degeneration has commenced.

This is significant as it means scientists now have a new way of tracking the progression of Alzheimer’s and potentially predicting if and when it may develop.

Until recently, the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease has focused on targeting the build of the beta-amyloid protein, with limited success.

The new findings opened up new avenues of research and added weight to theories about the role tau plays in brain degeneration.

Tau is recognized in all forms of dementia, not just Alzheimer’s disease, so this research has wider implications that holds promise for the treatment of all forms of dementia.

It also has the potential to be used to evaluate the efficacy of clinical drug trials, as we can start them sooner and measure their effects by assessing tau phosphorylation.

One author of the study is Professor Ralph Martins.

The study is published in Nature Medicine.

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