Alzheimer's detected 20 years before symptoms
A form of Alzheimer's found in teenagers more than 20 years before symptoms even develop could pave the way for early detection, and more improved treatments for the disease, researchers say.
New research has shown that nearly half of a group of 18 to 26-year-olds had a gene mutation called presenilin 1 (PSEN1) making the disease likely at a young age, the Daily Express reported.
Brain imaging, blood tests and analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) found 20 out of a group of 44 youngsters had PSEN1.
Researchers at the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Arizona, Boston University and the University of Antioquia found notable differences in brain structure and function between the two groups, with the PSEN1 mutation carriers experiencing greater activity in regions of the brain called the hippocampus - involved in memory - and the parahippocampus, as well as having less grey matter in certain brain areas.
Results also showed CSF of those with the mutation also had more of a protein involved in depositing amyloid plaques in the brain - a key biomarker of Alzheimer's.
Symptoms normally appear at around 45 in people with the PSEN1 gene, but the scientists found evidence 20 years before onset of the disease.
"These results add to evidence that Alzheimer's is characterised by a long period of changes that can be tracked, opening up a window for early intervention," the Daily Express quoted Prof Nick Fox, of University College London, as saying.