The biggest problem with Alzheimer’s disease is that once it is set, there is nothing much to do for the patient. The condition will follow its course, and all everyone can do is watch the patient’s mental deterioration. Because of this, a lot of research is focused on trying to find ways to detect Alzheimer’s before it starts developing. In a recent study, scientists found a blood biomarker that can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease before it installs.
The usual suspects for researchers are two proteins: amyloid and tau. Their faults are associated with Alzheimer’s dementia. The new study looked for 15 years at something else: extracellular RNA by the D-3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase, or put shortly PHGDH exRNAs.
ExRNAs are RNA molecules living outside of the cells in which they were reproduced. They exist in the body’s fluids, such as blood (both venous and menstrual), saliva, breast milk, urine, semen, and vaginal fluid. PHGDH is an enzyme that catalyzes chemical reactions.
A new study on the blood biomarker to early diagnose Alzheimer’s disease
Thirty-five subjects’ levels of PHGDH exRNAs were monitored continuously for 15 years. Close to half of them were already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when the study began, and 11 of them developed it during the 15 years. One of those who weren’t diagnosed with dementia passed away before the study ended.
Those who entered the study with a previous Alzheimer’s diagnosis showed high levels of the biomarker. Those who developed it after the beginning of the study also showed increased levels of it before the disease was installed. The participant who died displayed the same rise in the levels of PHGDH exRNAs, but before dying, he didn’t give any other reason to be diagnosed. The researchers stated that it would have been only a matter of time.
“So, we are not yet calling this a verified blood test for Alzheimer’s disease. Nevertheless, our data, which were from clinically collected samples, strongly support the discovery of a biomarker for predicting the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Zixu Zhou, co-first author of the research.