RESEARCHERS at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland have made a significant breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study, carried out by academics and clinicians from Ireland and Spain, has shown that concentration changes of a small molecule in the blood can diagnose the condition at a stage when other symptoms are mild.
Between 20,000 and 25,000 people in Ireland currently have Alzheimer’s, an illness which the RCSI says costs the Irish health system €400 million per year.
The findings of the study are being presented today by Aidan Kenny, a PhD student at the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics.
Principal investigator on the project, Dr Tobias Engel, said: “People are living longer today and because of this the incidence of age-related brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s will rise.
“Research into the condition is largely focussed on the development of new therapies, however, new therapies need diagnostic methods which are affordable and minimally invasive and can be used to screen large populations.
“Our research carried out over the past four years has identified changes in blood levels of a small molecule called microRNA which is able to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease at a very early stage and is able to distinguish Alzheimer’s from brain diseases with similar symptoms.”
No new therapy for Alzheimer’s has passed clinical trials in 20 years.