Doctors may soon be able to confirm whether you will suffer from Alzheimer's disease at a later point in your life. Research suggests that scientists have finally found a method that would be able to predict whether someone will be afflicted with the disease.
What Is Alzheimer's Disease?
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. It is a chronic disease that damages mental function, ultimately resulting in memory loss.
It usually affects people over the age of 65, causing deterioration in their thinking, memory, and behavior.
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were around 5 million U.S. citizens who suffered from Alzheimer's disease. With the new research, early diagnosis may lead to better results in some cases.
Can Genetic Testing Predict Alzheimer's Disease Risk?
The study was conducted by Rahul Desikan, a researcher of the University of California. For the purpose of the study, he thoroughly analyzed genetic data of 70,000 elderly people, some of whom were living with Alzheimer's disease while others were not.
After identifying the genetic risk factors for the disease in each person's genetic "fingerprint," Desikan and his team shaped a scoring system called the polygenic hazard score.
After developing the test, based on 31 genetic markers, researchers combined the scores with the statistics on the incident rate of the condition. This data would help predict the onset age for Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers next tested the risk calculations in two independent groups. It was inferred that people getting the highest scores had more chances of developing the disease compared with people obtaining low scores.
Earlier it was known that genetics plays an important role in causing Alzheimer's disease. Previous estimates also show that a quarter of the people afflicted have a family history of the disease and it mainly occurs because of a gene called ApoE.
However, the recent study shows that apart from ApoE, there exist thousands of other genetic variations. These play a tiny part in determining whether an individual will be afflicted by the disease or not.
With this massive discovery, researchers and scientists feel that if a person got to know of their personalized risk, then it would be immensely helpful for future planning and reservation of finances for the treatment.
Rosa Sancho, the head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, remarked that once doctors are able to determine the onset age of Alzheimer's disease in a person, they can take necessary precautions and can also try better treatment and preventive methods.
However, since the study focused primarily on individuals living in the United States, researchers claim that it needs to be further tested on non-U.S. populations.
This study has been published in PLOS Medicine.