Diagnostic Method for Alzheimer’s from Sweden Becomes International Standard
Researchers at Gothenburg University have developed a reference method for standardized measurements that diagnose Alzheimer’s disease decades before symptoms appear. The method has now formally been classified as the international reference method, which means that it will be used as the standard in Alzheimer’s diagnostics worldwide.
Beta amyloid protein is commonly found in the brain. While the protein’s normal function is not completely understood, it is believed that it participates in the formation and removal of synapses, which is essential in enabling the brain to form new memories. In healthy people, beta amyloid is quickly transported out to the spinal fluid and blood. But in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, the beta amyloids remain in the brain, where they clump together and begin to damage the synapses, which leads to nerve cell death.
This process can begin in middle age and continue unnoticed for decades until the nerve cells are so damaged that symptoms take the form of a memory disorder and impaired cognitive abilities. At that point, the disease is felt to be too advanced to be treated, so intensive worldwide research is underway to find methods that diagnose Alzheimer’s sooner. After decades of research, Henrik Zetterberg and Kaj Blennow at Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, were able to develop a method that measures the exact amount of beta amyloid in spinal fluid and diagnose Alzheimer’s ten to thirty years before the disease becomes symptomatic.
The Gothenburg researchers’ pioneering studies have gained wide international recognition since the measurement method they developed was approved as the international reference method by the Joint Committee for Traceability in Laboratory Medicine (JCTLM), whose goal is to promote and provide guidance on equivalent, internationally recognized and accepted measurements within laboratory medicine. The new method will be used as the norm for standardizing beta amyloid measurements around the world.
Source: University of Gothenberg