Could sleep molecules lead to a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease?

The group of researchers from King’s College London found that the level of the fatty molecules which induce sleep in blood were higher in those participants in the study with amyloid in the brain, the peptide used to diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease.

The amyloid peptide goes onto form plaques in the brain that are toxic to nerve cells. Plaque accumulation is thought to start many years before the appearance of symptoms such as memory loss. Drugs that have been developed so far to target amyloid have not been successful in restoring memory.

Researchers hope that this study could open the way for new treatments given the link with fatty molecules.

To investigate whether any molecules in blood could be linked to amyloid in brain, researchers used a technique akin to throwing a big fishnet to catch as many molecules as possible in the blood. They then generated a list of hundreds of molecules and found that fatty acid amides increased in line with amyloid in the brain. The team also found that these molecules were connected to brain shrinkage and memory loss.

Lead author, Dr Cristina Legido-Quigley from King’s College London said: “This is the first study in which lipid molecules produced in the brain are found in the blood, as amyloid deposition increases in Alzheimer’s Disease. These fatty amides are known to be neuroprotective and to induce sleep. There is also evidence that amyloid accumulates in the brain with lack of sleep, so these molecules may be playing a role in clearing up toxic amyloid in the brain.

“A much-needed pre-requisite for new treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease is a reliable diagnostic test that could be used to identify people at risk. A blood test would be cheaper than measuring amyloid in the brain and easier to do than a spinal tap. There is more work to be done. So far, we have measured these molecules in nearly 600 participants, and hope to expand to the thousands to establish if a new diagnostic test in blood is indeed possible.”

Top Articles

Parasitic worms cause cancer — and could help cure it

Billions worldwide are infected with tropical worms. Unsurprisingly, most of these people live in poor countries, kept poor by the effects of worm-related malnourishment. What may surprise many is that worms also cause the majority of cases of some cancers in these countries.

Read More

Sharp increase in falls in women during midlife

Falls are not just a problem of advanced age, according to researchers, who have identified a sharp increase in falls after the age of 40, particularly in women.

Read More

Phytochemicals: beyond vitamins

Phytochemicals are non-nutritive chemicals in plant foods that protect plants from microbial invasions and infections.

Read More

Latest News

Study seeks to optimize comfort for patients removed from ventilators at end of life

A recently published paper reports on a study of the palliative ventilator withdrawal (PVW) procedure performed in intensive care units (ICU) at end of life.

Read

Dementia gene raises risk of severe COVID-19

Having a faulty gene linked to dementia doubles the risk of developing severe COVID-19, according to a large-scale study.

Read

Simple question can lead to remedy for older adults’ dizziness and impaired balance

Does lying down or turning over in bed make you feel dizzy? This simple question effectively identifies whether a person suffers from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which is harmless and treatable, recent research shows.

Read

“Our bodies are our gardens - our wills are our gardeners.”

William Shakespeare