Quebec scientists and researchers are making impressive strides lately — from working to develop a plant-based COVID-19 vaccine to finding the world's first oral drug for treating non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Now, they've found a new way to detect Alzheimer's disease five years before its onset.
The recent study, conducted at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) in Quebec City and led by doctoral student Mohamed Raâfet Ben Khedher and postdoctoral student Mohamed Haddad,* uses two markers found in people's blood plasma to detect early warning signs of the disease.
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We need to find more and more early markers so we can act as soon as possible. When the disease is symptomatic, there is little, if any, way back.
Professor Charles Ramassamy
These markers are detectable through a blood test whereas typical diagnostic testing for Alzheimer's disease requires psychological tests measuring cognitive function, brain imaging and cerebrospinal fluid analysis.
"The lumbar puncture is invasive, while brain imaging is expensive and not 100% reliable. This complicates regular follow-up," said the study's director Professor Charles Ramassamy of traditional testing methods.
Alzheimer's, a progressive brain disease that destroys memory and thinking skills, is an illness all too familiar to Quebecers.
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, one in five Canadians have cared for someone living with dementia.
But the Society says early diagnosis can help for a variety of reasons — whether it means starting therapeutic intervention, gaining extra time to prepare and adjust or avoiding the dangers of undetected dementia, like car accidents.
ProfessorRamassamy said in a statement that he hopes to use the findings to analyze a larger population with pre- and post-disease samples, as well as to research markers for other diseases.
*This article has been updated.