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New blood test detects Alzheimer’s 20 years before illness

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This is a promising advance in research against Alzheimer’s: American scientists have improved a blood test that can detect the disease 20 years before the onset of symptoms. It would be 94% reliable.

When the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease occur, it is considered that it is unfortunately already too late. At this point, the patient’s brain is already too damaged for the treatment to be effective. To date, there is actually no conclusive treatment against Alzheimer’s disease, which affects millions of people. This neurodegenerative disease is also the fourth leading cause of death in the world.

Statistics show the need to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease as soon as possible, to take care of those affected immediately. It is in this context that a blood test was created two years ago, to detect the disease until 20 years before the appearance of the first symptoms.

Its principle is relatively simple: it measures the amounts of two proteins called beta-amyolide 42 and beta-amyolide 40. The difference between these two proteins indicates to scientists the presence of amyloid plaques, which accumulate in the brain and cause the disease of Alzheimer’s.

The problem is that this first version of the blood test was unreliable, and this is where the scientists offer an improvement.

More reliable than brain scanners

To improve blood tests, the researchers simply added several risk factors, such as age. We know that from age 65, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is doubled every five years. They also added the consideration of a genetic variant called APOE4, also associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the researchers, this updated test would increase the accuracy of detection, making it 94% reliable. It would now be more reliable than brain scans.

“With our blood test, we could track thousands of people each month,” says Dr. Randall Bateman, neurologist and lead author of this study. A considerable saving of time, especially when one knows that the disease can be installed sometimes 30 years before the appearance of the first symptoms.

“Reducing the number of scanners could allow us to conduct twice as many clinical trials for the same amount of time and money,” the scientist continues. “It’s not the $4,000 scanner that worries us, it’s the millions of patients who suffer while we do not find treatment, and if we can conduct these clinical trials faster, it will bring us closer to the end of disease Alzheimer’s.”

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Micell News was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
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Medical Research

Scientists discover a surprising effect of breast milk

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Many scientific studies extol the nutritional benefits of breast milk. But here’s a surprising new hypothesis: it would also allow babies to differentiate day and night and develop their circadian rhythm.

Let’s start at the beginning: every woman is free to decide whether or not to breastfeed her child. This is a personal choice and the fact that a mother wants it or not, and even may or may not breastfeed her baby, is not something that should be forced. That being said, five American researchers have just made an astonishing discovery about breast milk: beyond nutrition, it would also bring newborns a certain amount of information and may play a role in the development of the circadian rhythm of the child, for breast milk would not be composed in the same way in the morning as in the evening.

The composition of breast milk varies

Scientists at the University of California have observed that morning milk is on average three times more concentrated in cortisol than in the evening. This hormone is associated with stress and would make the milk at the beginning of the day more energizing.

In the evening, however, the milk would contain more melatonin, also known as “sleep hormone.” This would make breastmilk at the end of the day more calming, and mean to the newborn that it’s time to sleep.

“These observed differences in children’s diets may explain why there is such variability in the development of the daily rhythm from one child to another,” says Dr. Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook, lead author of this study. And that might explain why some babies do their nights fast, while others wake up their parents in the middle of the night sometimes many months after birth.

Rethinking breastfeeding

For researchers, this is also a sign that we need to rethink the way we feed infants, especially for women who choose to draw their milk. “Giving a baby a bottle of milk in the morning at night, with its high level of cortisol and low level of melatonin, could be the nutritional equivalent of turning on the light just before going to bed,” they write.

If this proves to be true, “there is a simple solution” reassure the scientists. “Mothers can, for example, label their milk according to the time at which it was fired and coordinate the bottles by giving morning milk in the morning, and evening milk at night.”

As the researchers point out, however, this is only preliminary work and additional studies will test this theory. But if it turns out to be true, it could be important information to know to optimize the feeding of your child.

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Micell News was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
Continue Reading

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Alzheimer’s disease could be transmissible during a neurosurgery operation

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In the brains of eight patients treated years ago by growth hormones, a British neurologist found protein linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This is a discovery that revives the debate on the transmissibility of neurodegenerative pathology, and which also highlights the need for better disinfection of instruments used in neurosurgery.

Nothing proves at the moment that Alzheimer’s disease is contagious. Researchers have come to the contrary to reveal that eight patients treated decades ago by growth hormones had received, at the same time, a protein related to the appearance of the neurodegenerative pathology. You may read about the study in the Nature journal here.

At a press conference, the neurologist John Collinge of University College London announced at the time of the discovery that they have detected in the brain and the vessels of patients aged thirty years a substance called “beta-amyloid,” a peptide that accumulates outside nerve cells in the form of plaques in Alzheimer’s patients.

Too young for such an amount of beta-amyloid protein to be naturally present in their body, the eight patients had all received, in the past, injections of growth hormones.

Old samples studied closely

To determine the possible role of these hormones in the important presence of beta-amyloid in these eight patients, John Collinge and his team were interested in the hormones that were injected to them several decades ago. Samples were preserved in powder form. This unexpected discovery raises many questions about the possibility of transmission of Alzheimer’s disease. There is a trail that researchers now plan to explore in greater depth by examining the possibility that another protein (Tau protein, modified in the case of Alzheimer’s disease) is linked to neurodegenerative disease.

Surgical precautions needed

While waiting to learn more, the neurologist recommends caution with respect to certain surgical practices. If his findings are confirmed, neurosurgery instruments could potentially be the vectors of these proteins leading to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Alzheimer’s disease may in some circumstances be transmitted by neurosurgery instruments,” worries John Collinge. However, he ended on a reassuring tone:

“I think it is important that we continue research on this and develop new ways to eliminate these elements in order to avoid any risk of contamination.” And the neurosurgeon finally advances wise advice: “No one should have a neurosurgery operation as a result of that.”

Much remains to be done before we can determine with certainty whether or not Alzheimer’s disease is contagious.

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Micell News was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
Continue Reading

Medical Research

A new study upsets our knowledge of aging

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Researchers have revealed an unexpected discovery about the evolution of the human brain. Unlike other recent studies, scientists have detected in a particular structure of the brain, the hippocampus, as many new neurons in the elderly as in the young. They believe that the brain’s ability to produce cells does not decline over time.

Old age is not necessarily synonymous with senility. Contrary to popular belief, older people’s brains can compete with their younger ones, at least in terms of the youthfulness of their cells. American researchers have discovered that in healthy people, the brain is able to generate neurons throughout its life, as revealed by their study published in April 2018 in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

When I was in medical school, we were taught that the brain stops making new cells,” says lead author Maura Boldrini, a neurobiologist at Columbia University in the United States. They studied the brains of 28 donors aged 14 to 79 years. All preserved by the same preservation technique, these organs also came from individuals without particular health problems, who had never consumed antidepressants or narcotics during their lifetime.

Healthy organs analyzed with meticulousness

Past work asserted that the oldest brains showed a decline in the production of new cells as early as adolescence. Maura Boldrini puts forward a hypothesis to explain this contradiction. According to her, the differences between her work and those of other teams of researchers reside in the quality of the organs examined on the one hand, and in the analysis technique used, on the other hand.

In previous studies, the traceability of organ donors left something to be desired. According to the American neurobiologist, the brains used by her colleagues came from individuals with a very variable state of health. Some with various neurological disorders, including epilepsy. In addition, the organs were preserved by very different methods, which would not have allowed to preserve the integrity of their structures. Evidence of freshly formed cells could simply have been destroyed.

Having this time of healthy brains and perfectly traced origin, Maura Boldrini and her colleagues undertook to analyze a very particular structure, involved in memory and learning abilities: the hippocampus. To do this, the scientists cut them into very thin slices, which they then observed using a microscope. Their goal: to register all the newly formed cells. A particularly difficult task in the human brain.

Complex work

For people who study mice with small brains, it’s easy, you cut them out, look at the cells, and you count them,” emphasizes Maura Boldrini. To perform this same work in humans, the researchers used computer software capable of counting each of the cells observed under the microscope objective.

As a result, older brains appeared to produce as many new cells as younger organs. The number of recent neurons in middle-aged and older donors has all been strictly identical. A tempered similarity despite everything by some differences. In the seventies, in fact, the number of neural stem cells is slightly lower than that of donors in their twenties.

In addition, their new blood vessels and recent connections between neurons also appeared less numerous. So many potential signs of diminished brain plasticity, even though, according to Maura Boldrini, the consequences of these differences in brain function are not yet clearly established. The study of brains as it has been practiced makes it possible to study its structure, but not the activity.

Controversial findings

According to the scientist, this discovery of the ability of the hippocampus to produce new cells throughout life could be the secret that allows some to maintain intact brain health throughout their lives. This point of view is nevertheless questioned by other scientists who call for further work.

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Micell News was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
Continue Reading

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