Scientists in Britain say they have made an important breakthrough in attempts to develop a test for Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at King’s College London and Oxford University, say their study has identified certain proteins in the blood which enable the detection of the start of the disease in 87 percent of cases.
Scientists hope the new test will eventually allow them to treat the debilitating illness in its early stages, either by slowing its progress or halting the disease completely if it is caught quickly enough.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the main causes of dementia, which results in progressive memory loss. Around 44 million people worldwide are thought to suffer from dementia, a figure which is expected to almost triple by 2050 as people live longer.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s.
The latest news is being hailed a major advance, especially as recent research has struggled to make any headway in finding effective treatments for the illness.
Between 2002 and 2012, 99.6 percent of trials aimed at preventing or reversing the disease were not successful.
Doctors say much of the difficulty has been caused by a failure to treat patients quickly enough, reinforcing the significance of the new research.
However, experts say the accuracy of the new test will need to be improved before it can be fully rolled out, and it may need to be used in conjunction with other tests, such as brain scans, before doctors can give a final diagnosis to whether somebody has Alzheimer’s or not.