European group lists approaches for early Alzheimer's diagnosis

There is no cure for Alzheimer's, so for now victory against the disease is measured by how long its onset can be postponed. According to one researcher in Copenhagen, "delaying the onset of the disease by five years would halve all costs of Alzheimer's disease and delaying onset and progression by only one year would reduce the number of Alzheimer's cases by about 10 percent." The best way to delay its onset is to diagnose it as early as possible through use of biomarkers. And that's where a group called PredictAD comes into play. It's an EU-funded project that, according to the organization, "develops objective and efficient methods for enabling earlier diagnosis" of the disease.

"Current diagnostic guidelines emphasize the importance of various biomarkers in diagnostics," Jyrki Lötjönen, Finnish researcher and PredictAD's scientific coordinator, said in a news release. "We have developed novel approaches to extract biomarkers from imaging data, electrophysiological data and blood samples, and a unique and clinically useful software tool for integrating all these heterogeneous measurements."

Among the approaches developed by PredictAD:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging to measure atrophy in the mediotemporal lobe, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation to test electromagnetic activity in the brain, which is affected by Alzheimer's.
  • Non-invasive techniques such as finding biomarkers in blood rather than in cerebrospinal fluid, where currently doctors measure levels of Alzheimer's markers tau proteins and b-amyloid 42.
  • Measuring the state of the patient using interviews with the patient and relatives. "PredictAD has designed a totally novel approach for measuring objectively the state of the patient," the group said in a release.

- read more about each approach in the release