Alzheimer’s disease is a growing problem in the United States. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, by mid-century there might be as many as 12.7 million Americans with this condition. While a cure remains elusive, it might soon be possible for doctors to better predict the onset of Alzheimer’s.
This potential new development comes courtesy of a new report researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study in question has its origins in blood samples taken for separate, large-scale studies decades ago. In all, the Johns Hopkins group reviewed samples from over ten thousand middle aged and elderly adults.
So what did all this data reveal? In a nutshell, those with unusually high levels of 38 specific proteins were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s within the ensuing five year period. Furthermore, the study also found that high levels of 16 of these proteins could indicate an elevated Alzheimer’s risk two decades in advance.
A New Approach?
The reason why these findings are so important is that, prior to this report, the vast majority of these proteins had no known connection to Alzheimer’s. By reducing the levels of these proteins, it could theoretically be possible to reduce a person’s risk of dementia.
Senior author Josef Coresh noted that new Alzheimer’s prevention methods could be developed using his team’s work. “This is the most comprehensive analysis of its kind to date, and it sheds light on multiple biological pathways that are connected to Alzheimer’s,” stated Coresh in a Johns Hopkins press release. “Some of these proteins we uncovered are just indicators that disease might occur, but a subset may be causally relevant, which is exciting because it raises the possibility of targeting these proteins with future treatments.”