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Skin test for Alzheimer's

16th August 2006

05052006_mealtime.jpgUS researchers say it may be possible to develop a quick, painless skin test for Alzheimer's disease, having discovered enzymes that react abnormally only in the skin of Alzheimer's patients. 

In its early stages Alzheimer's is often difficult to distinguish from other conditions, and from mild cognitive impairment. Presently the disease can only be diagnosed using psychiatric assessments or during a post-mortem examination. Early diagnosis of the condition is critical as drugs to slow its progress have the most effect when administered when the disease is still in its earliest stages.

The study found Alzheimer's stimulated a change in the enzymes MAP Kinase Erk 1 and 2. Researchers undertook tests on tissue samples taken from people who had died from various known causes, including Alzheimer's. The Erk 1 and 2 response to the inflammatory chemical, bradykinin, was different in samples from Alzheimer's patients to that seen in tissues taken from others.

The head of research for the Alzheimer's Society, Dr Susanne Sorensen, said "If the skin test can be successfully developed it will revolutionise early diagnosis of dementia."

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