Discovery of biomarker can predict Alzheimer’s symptoms years before emergence

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Denny Mathew, Staff Writer

According to new research at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Joondalup, Australia, a specific brain protein called glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) can be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease decades before the symptoms manifest.

This study is the first to find an abundance of GFAP in the blood to simultaneously increase the amount of the indicator of Alzheimer’s disease, called amyloid beta.

The lead researcher of this study is ECU Professor Ralph Martins AO, who said the discovery offered a “promising new avenue for early diagnosis”.

“The GFAP biomarker could be used to develop a simple and quick blood test to detect if a person is at very high risk of developing Alzheimer’s,” says Martins. “The technology for detecting biomarkers has developed rapidly, so I think we will begin to see diagnostic blood tests being used for Alzheimer’s in the next few years.

The ECU study included 100 Australians aged 65 to 80 years old who are asymptomatic of Alzheimer’s disease.

Professor Martins said further research is needed to understand GFAP in Alzheimer’s disease. “Longitudinal studies will provide more insight into how GFAP relates to the progression of Alzheimer’s, which may allow us to determine when symptoms will emerge.”