It takes just a drop of blood to find out whether you have Alzheimer's Disease even before you notice the symptoms.
A revolutionary test kit developed by Korean scientists at Gyeongsang National University, has made it possible to objectively diagnose cases of Alzheimer's at an early stage.
In the past, doctors had to rely on radioactive imaging scans or cognitive tests based on the symptoms of dementia, which only showed up after the condition had progressed to a certain extent.
Now, a sample of bodily fluid, including blood, saliva and sweat, can be used to test for the disease.
The research team led by Kim Myeong-ok used fluorescent nanoparticles to detect eight micro-RNAs and 21 indicators associated with memory decline.
"I chose to focus on Alzheimer's because it makes up at least 70 percent of dementia cases but the reasons for developing the condition vary greatly, depending on the individual's environment. So that is why we selected 21 indicators. Also, micro-RNAs can be easily found in blood, sweat, and saliva. "
If key micro-RNAs or antigens linked to Alzheimers are present, they show up in fluorescent colours.
"When the fluorophore and quencher are close together, the quencher absorbs the energy or emission of light from the flourophore. But if there is a relevant micro-RNA or antigen, the distance increases, so the quencher no longer suppresses the light."
This method is expected to increase the accuracy of early diagnosis.
"When you attach a biotin protein, it enhances the colour, compared to previous tests which were direct and gave off non-specific results, which largely affected the accuracy of the tests."
The findings have been published in Scientific Reports this month, and the kit is already undergoing clinical trials to be commercialised later this year.
Professor Kim hopes to further develop ways to detect and effectively treat dementia through customised precision medicine at an early stage.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News, Jinju.