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Instant test at 40 to predict Alzheimer's

12th November 2010

Scientists are working on a 30-second test which could be used to look for signs of future Alzheimer's disease in people from the age of 40 onwards.

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The procedure could help people with the disease to find out decades before they began to show symptoms.

The test could potentially be performed by a GP using a computer and could become as prevalent as blood pressure tests.

People who were tested and found to have a small area of their brains that was damaged might then be able to prevent the development of the disease by changing their dietary and exercising habits.

If the disease was found at an early stage, treatment could start earlier and new drugs might stop the progression of dementia.

Over 800,000 people in Britain have Alzheimer's disease and this number is predicted to rise to 1.6 million in a generation.

Professor David Bunce, who headed the research team at Brunel University, said: "The study lays open the possibilities for screening, early detection and intervention. The earlier we can intervene with people vulnerable to eventual dementia, the greater the chances of preventing or delaying the disease onset."

The team carried out brain scans which looked for small lesions in the white matter of the brains of male and female participants aged 44 to 48.

Around 15% of the participants were found to have the lesions, which were tinier than a grain of rice.

 

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