Alzheimer’s Disease Progression Linked to Changing Protein Levels in Immune System

Alzheimer’s is a disease that is constantly being researched. There is no cure, but new findings come to light every day. One of the most recent published articles indicates a correlation between the protein levels in the blood and memory loss. These findings can help doctors to develop new drugs for Alzheimer’s patients. 

Protein Level May Be Indicator Of Risk 

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Standard treatments are in place to help patients retain their memory, but ultimately no cure is known. Researchers from various universities in Europe recently discovered the proteins in our blood can be used to determine our risk of Alzheimer’s. Currently, the main diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is a person’s cognitive decline and memory loss. This research can help doctors to link biological markers to the disease instead.

According to the article, published in November 2015 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researcher Martina Sattlecker and her colleagues tested blood samples from over 200 individuals and looked at 1001 proteins from those samples to determine changes. Subjects varied from patients who already had the disease, patients who show signs of cognitive decline, and those who do not show signs of decline.

The findings showed that those who continued to decline in their mental abilities, drifting closer to diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, also displayed a marked increase in certain proteins in the blood. Why is this important? “Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) progression are needed to support the development of urgently needed disease-modifying drugs,” says the study.

Discovery Could Mean Earlier Detection 

By indicating that there is a biological connection to Alzheimer’s disease, doctors can now begin to develop actual drugs to try to curb the effects. Instead of simply determining a diagnosis through mental decline, doctors can now look at blood samples as a way to indicate predilection to the disease. 

The researchers discovered that the protein called the complement cascade, a part of the immune system, was significantly increased in individuals who showed advanced signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Head researcher Dr. Sattlecker commented, “Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating illness, and to date, there is no cure. The medication currently available can only temporarily alleviate some symptoms or slow down progression in a subset of patients, so new drugs are urgently needed. To advance the development of disease modifying drugs, biomarkers for early diagnosis and disease progression are required. A biomarker capable of predicting disease progression would aid drug development.”

There is still work to do. With more research like this, doctors get one step closer to not only curbing the effects of the disease but perhaps some day to completely eliminating Alzheimer’s altogether.