Published: Fri, January 03, 2020
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Alzheimers' disease could be spotted in advance, research suggests

Alzheimers' disease could be spotted in advance, research suggests

Furthermore, this finding demonstrates the potential of recently developed tau-based PET (positron emission tomography) brain imaging technology to accelerate Alzheimer's clinical trials and improve individualized patient care.

The investigators found that the tau levels detected in participants' brains at the start of the study predicted how much degeneration would occur within a year or two.

The new U.S. trial suggests the presence of tau may be more significant.

Researchers at the Institute for Molecular Medicine and University of California, Irvine (UCI) worked with a successful vaccine formulated on adjuvant developed by Flinders University professor Nikolai Petrovsky in South Australia.

The treatment-a combination of two different drugs-was in the making for over two decades. Petrovsky's team focused on researching tau and amyloid proteins in the brain.

Scientists at the VA San Diego Healthcare System say a build-up of another protein, called tau, may be the first sign of the disease.

Dr Laura Phipps said: "The ability to track tau in the brain will be critical for testing treatments created to prevent the protein causing damage, and the scans used in this study could be an important tool for future clinical trials".

It was once feared impossible to measure tau in the living brain.

Scientists have discovered a medical technique for predicting Alzheimer's disease - years before serious symptoms emerge.

It is believed that flortaucipir is now under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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The participants also underwent high-tech brain scans at the beginning of the study and then yearly scans over the next four years, looking for signs of amyloid plaque buildup.

The team tested this vaccine using mice genetically engineered to produce amyloid and tau protein aggregates.

A recent report on human monoclonal antibody, aducanumab, showed that high dose of this antibody reduced clinical decline in patients with early Alzheimer's disease as measured by primary and secondary endpoints. So, the team speculates that the treatment could both prevent the development of Alzheimer's and reduce the symptoms once patients have already started to develop the disease. On the other hand, baseline amyloid-PET scans correctly predicted only 3-percent of future brain degeneration.

Scientists said it appears to be a "key driver" of the condition, far surpassing amyloid in predicting likely deterioration.

The investigators performed a longitudinal analysis of tau-PET and β-amyloid-PET in 32 patients.

This suggests that other factors - likely other abnormal proteins or vascular injuries - may play a larger role in late-onset Alzheimer's, the researchers say.

According to Laura Phipps of Alzheimer's Research UK: "The ability to track tau in the brain will be critical for testing treatments created to prevent the protein causing damage, and the scans used in this study could be an important tool for future clinical trials".

A possible vaccine for dementia is one-step closer to clinical trials after promising research in mice.

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"One of the first things people want to know when they hear a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is simply what the future holds for themselves or their loved ones".

A syndrome associated with loss of memory, behavior, thinking capability, and ability to perform routine activities, dementia is an age-related condition that mainly impacts the older population.

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