September 2012 launched the first ever World Alzheimer’s Month; an initiative by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) who are an umbrella brand for over 80 global Alzheimer’s associations. Now in its fifth year, the organisation is continuing their aim to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and all other causes of dementia. World Alzheimer’s Day is celebrated on September 21st to mark the pinnacle day of the month.1
Randox Biosciences are committed to the development of new tests to improve health worldwide, having recently developed a rapid blood test to detect a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. We are honoured to support this campaign by the ADI to help raise awareness of Alzheimer’s globally and remain dedicated to furthering our research and development.
Dementia is a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes which affect memory, thinking, behaviour and emotion. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s which affects more than 520,000 people in the UK2 and 5 million in the USA.3
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, meaning that over time, more parts of the brain are damaged and more severe symptoms will develop. At the beginning of a diagnosis, symptoms are usually mild but as they worsen, they will begin to interfere with a sufferer’s daily life.
There are some common early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease including memory loss, difficulty in finding the right words or understanding what people are saying and difficulty in performing previously routine tasks.1 However, it is important to remember that people are unique and two people are unlikely to experience the condition and its symptoms in exactly the same manner. For example, memory loss is not always the earliest symptom. This is Atypical Alzheimer’s disease.
Atypical Alzheimer’s Disease
Atypical Alzheimer’s disease is most common in people diagnosed when they are under 65 (early-onset Alzheimer’s disease). In this age group it represents up to one-third of cases.2
In most cases, the first part of the brain to be affected is the hippocampus resulting in memory loss as an early symptom. However, when other parts of the brain are affected, it results in initial problems with vision, language and personality. Research from Northwestern University’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Centre has highlighted that there are key symptoms of the disease that are overlooked because it is so often related to just memory loss. Dr Rogalski, who led the research, explained the fact that those with Alzheimer’s will experience the condition in a unique way because their symptoms will depend on what part of their brain is affected.4 These symptoms revolve around vision, language and behaviour:
- Posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) refers to gradual and progressive degeneration of the back and upper-rear of the brain. This results in problems with processing visual information, meaning early symptoms of PCA are often difficulties identifying objects and reading, even if the eyes are healthy.
- Logopenic aphasia involves damage to the left side of the brain that stimulates language, meaning it will be difficult for a person to vocally communicate and their speech may become laboured with long pauses and repetition.
- Frontal variant Alzheimer’s disease involves damage to the lobes at the front of the brain where our behaviour and personality are controlled. Symptoms can include problems with planning and decision-making, as well as a personality change that can result in someone behaving in socially inappropriate ways or seem not to care about the feelings of others.2
Randox Alzheimer’s detection testing
At this year’s American Association for Clinical Chemistry Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, we were delighted to present our new blood test that can identify the risk of Alzheimer’s in 3 hours, utilising our patented Biochip Array Technology.
Our blood test provides a faster alternative to identifying patients at risk of developing Alzheimer’s than standard testing which analyses a patient’s DNA. Using a single patient sample, the test works to detect the presence of a protein in the blood produced by a specific variation of the apolipoprotein gene (ApoE4), which is associated with the increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The apolipoprotein gene is inherited from each parent and when a patient inherits the ApoE4 variant from one parent they have a three times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, whereas a patient who inherits ApoE4 from both parents is 8 to 12 times more likely to develop the disease.
Dr. Emma Harte, R&D Scientist at Randox, who was part of the team who carried out this pioneering Alzheimer’s research, explained how this is the first time Randox have used our Biochip Array Technology to test for an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
“This type of testing is important in our quest to understand and diagnose Alzheimer’s and empower patients to understand risks, consider medication, and even make early lifestyle changes,” said Emma.
“Pairing this test with medical and family history for risk of Alzheimer’s disease has real potential to advance personalised medicine. This fast, accurate testing will allow doctors and patients to make more informed choices earlier to potentially slow the possible progress of Alzheimer’s.”
Research has shown how those who adopt a healthy lifestyle by partaking in regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet, as well as not smoking and moderating their alcohol levels are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.2 Our proactive Alzheimer’s detection testing therefore enables those with the ApoE4 gene to be aware of their risk and provides them with the opportunity to make the necessary changes to their lifestyle.
Join the campaign with us on social media by using the hashtags #WAM2016 & #WorldAlzheimersDay
1 – Alzheimer’s Disease International
2 – Alzheimer’s Society
3 – Alzheimer’s Association
4 – Daily Mail