Chilean researchers have patented a diagnostic blood test for Alzheimer’s, the untreatable neurodegenerative disease that results in memory loss and reportedly affects about 26 million people around the world.
The exam can detect the platelet protein tau, which is associated with the disease. Dr. Gonzalo Farias, from the Universidad de Chile, administered a number of tests on people with Alzheimer’s disease and 19 healthy older adults, including neuropsychological exams and analysis of blood samples to study the presence of tau protein.
Tau, which is found inside neurons, provides support and a framework for the cell. When tau proteins are defective, they can result in dementias, such as Alzheimer’s
Dr. Farias recruited 47 patients with Alzheimer’s and 19 neurologically healthy older adults. Through the analysis the doctor was able to determine that the functioning of the tau protein is not related to age, but is associated with the disease.
“For over 30 years, the global medical community has been looking for a marker for Alzheimer’s that is fast, reliable and non-invasive, so we are very excited about the projection of this patent,» said Dr. Ricardo Maccioni, a professor at the Universidad de Chile who led the research.