Washington, June 10 (ANI): A peptide, called APL1beta28, in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) can act as an indicator to diagnose whether a person has Alzheimer's disease or not, according to a Japanese study.
And measuring the level of this peptide could show that the disease process has started, much before any serious damage is done to the brain, say researchers behind the study.
The new finding raises new opportunities for combating Alzheimer's disease.
Currently, treatments can only be started after considerable structural damage has occurred in the person's brain.
However, if the new finding is broadly used as a clinical test, treatment may be possible before too much damage is present, offering the hope of much better outcomes.
"This novel peptide is the long-sought surrogate marker for Alzheimer's disease," said lead researcher Masayasu Okochi, who works in the Department of Neuropsychiatry at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan.
Many research teams are already exploring ways to detect the onset of Alzheimer's disease long before any symptoms appear.
They are mainly focussing on using a sampling method that does not involve costly scanning equipment.
In the current study, the researchers analysed CSF and brain tissue samples from people with and without diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.
They discovered that increases in levels of their newly identified peptide (APL1beta28) reflected increased production of Abeta42 in the brain.
While Abeta42 is always produced in the brain, this peptide is one of the key constituents of the senile plaques that play a critical role in Alzheimer's disease, and increased production is associated with plaque formation.
"Many pharmaceutical companies are developing Abeta-targeting compounds that could prevent some of the brain damage associated with Alzheimer's disease, but their use will be limited if given after symptoms appear. Our new test allows early diagnosis, giving patients the chance of getting maximum benefit from these new drugs," said Okochi.
The study has been published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine. (ANI)