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A simple blood test to predict who will develop Alzheimer’s disease could be the ace up science’s sleeve when it comes to defeating dementia, says Simon Lovestone, professor of translational neuroscience at Oxford University.

Alzheimers treatment within reach

Professor Simon Lovestone, from the Department of Psychiatry is interviewed by The Telegraph in their campaign to raise awareness around dementia.

Read the following extract:

'After 10 years of research, the professor – also a Lead Academic Scientist at the Alzheimer’s Research UK-funded Oxford Drug Discovery Institute – and his team have identified a combination of 10 proteins which can give early warning of Alzheimer’s, with an accuracy of 87 per cent.

Even though no treatment exists to slow or stop the disease today, this early detection could help turn a corner tomorrow, Prof Lovestone believes.

G8 leaders have committed to finding a cure or a treatment that slows or stops dementia by 2025. As for the deadline, Prof Lovestone is more upbeat than might be expected.

Although 2025 looks like an enormously difficult target, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that within the next 10 years, there will be a secondary prevention – made available following a positive blood test and other investigations such as brain scans and spinal fluid tests – but far more substantial investment in research will need to happen before then. - Professor Simon Lovestone

Prof Lovestone believes that we will find a treatment within 15 years at the outside.

While many of the drug trials of the past have proved discouraging, the professor, who conducted much of his research while at King’s College London, believes that in the majority of them, people have simply been treated too late.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a very long disorder and although typically it can be 10 years from first diagnosis to end stage, it is also now clear that the disease process starts some 10 or even 20 years before any symptoms appear,” he says.

“The blood test we are hoping to develop would both detect people with the disease at this pre-clinical stage, and would allow them to be offered the drug treatments of the future before any symptoms arise.”

In order to be effective, the test will need to be able to distinguish between somebody with early memory problems whose difficulties may not progress, and those whose memory loss is likely to result in dementia.'

Read the full article in The Telegraph.

Photo by: Nicholas Irving of Oxford Neuroscience