Canadian researchers announced the development of a saliva test that could be a the next clinical tool for detecting Alzheimer’s in the early phases.
Cost effective and easy to gather, as well as to transport, saliva is a substance brimming with biomarkers already used to detect an array of other diagnoses. Thus, the researchers thought that Alzheimer’s, the neurodegenerative disease could also be detected in its incumbent stages, before it takes hold of a patient’s brain.
While there are clinically available technologies to detect changes to the brain and some treatments for the neurodegenerative disease, they target a more advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. Often, the chances of reversal are dim.
However, what is it that triggers Alzheimer’s and how could it be detected early on, are still questions the answers of which remain elusive to the scientific community.
The saliva test developed in the laboratories of the University of Alberta has a promising potential for solving at least parts of the puzzle. The study was conducted on a sample of a little more over 100 patients, yielding medically assuring results.
Three groups were formed during the study. The first group comprised 35 patients with typical aging condition. Another 25 patients had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. 22 had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
After saliva samples were taken from all groups, they underwent protein analysis. The focus was set on the over 6,000 molecules called metabolites. These are biomarkers that indicate the prevalence of certain conditions in a patient’s body.
The protein analysis concluded that compared to the first group, the next two did present specific biomarkers, common only to these two groups: mild cognitive impairment patients and Alzheimer’s disease patients.
Director of the Alzheimer’s Association medical and scientific operations, Heather Snyder stated:
“As the field has continued to mature over the last decade or so, we now have research and evidence that suggests that the underlying biology of Alzheimer’s disease is changing a decade or more before someone experiences the memory or function changes associated with Alzheimer’s”.
The findings of the study have been validated by a 27-participants study undergoing the same procedure and methodology. Certainly, these numbers are not sufficient to pitch the saliva test as a clinically valid and available test for now.
Yet, pending more trials are being done, the saliva test could become the next tool for detecting Alzheimer’s in its incumbency.
The findings of this study have been presented during the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2015 taking place in Washington.
Photo Credits umn.edu