Inherited forms of Alzheimer’s disease may be treatable 25 years before symptoms occur, increasing the chances of preventing brain damage, scientists have found.

In a study, a team of researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine analysed data from 128 participants with a genetic risk of inheriting the disease who underwent baseline clinical and cognitive assessments, brain imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid and blood tests.

Results showed that concentrations of amyloid-beta – a key ingredient of Alzheimer’s brain plaques – appeared to decline in the spinal fluid 25 years before expected symptom onset.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, also showed that increased concentrations of tau protein in the cerebrospinal fluid and an increase in brain atrophy were detected 15 years before symptoms occurred.

At ten years, changes in the brain’s use of sugar glucose and impaired memory became apparent and cognitive impairment was detected five years before expected symptom onset.

"It’s likely that any new treatment for Alzheimer’s would need to be given early to have the best chance of success."

Dr Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, commented on the findings, "These results from people with the inherited form of Alzheimer’s seem to be very similar to the changes in the non-genetic, common form of the disease."

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData

"It’s likely that any new treatment for Alzheimer’s would need to be given early to have the best chance of success," Karran told the BBC.

"The ability to detect the very earliest stages of Alzheimer’s would not only allow people to plan and access care and existing treatments far sooner, but would also enable new drugs to be trialled in the right people, at the right time."