Everything in the human body is connected. This can explain how researchers studying Longitudinal Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration got answers that can help Alzheimer’s research. It isn’t the first time that researchers are looking out for an outcome to a specific disease and come up with answers for another. This time experts say that plasma phosphorylated tau181 can be the way to simplify the diagnostic of Alzheimer’s disease.
For both patients and the medical system, the current process of Alzheimer’s diagnosis is overwhelming. PET scans and collection of spinal fluid make it a complicated and expensive process, and it slows down all research for curing Alzheimer’s.
In the present, to diagnose it specialists are using PET scans of the brain and samples of spinal fluid to find the tau proteins and tangles. The discovery can reduce the diagnostic process to a simple blood test. Phosphorylated-tau-181 (ptau181) is the name the researchers have come up with for the biomarker that can be traced in the human blood for signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Tau proteins are a group of six highly soluble protein isoforms. They have roles primarily in maintaining the stability of nerve fiber that conducts electrical impulses. Tau proteins are abundant in the neurons of the central nervous system but are found more often in neurons than in non-neuronal cells in humans.
Pathologies and dementias of the nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are associated with tau proteins. A failed mechanism in a tau protein can lead to developmental problems or cancer. When the failed proteins aggregate and become a Neurofibrillary tangle, it can become a primary marker in Alzheimer’s disease.
The New Study
It is called “Diagnostic value of plasma phosphorylated tau181 in Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration”. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute on Aging.
The team led by Adam Boxer, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of California, San Francisco, collected blood samples from over 400 participants. The purpose was to detect the levels of ptau181 in plasma.
Participants with Alzheimer’s pathology and frontotemporal lobar degeneration had an increased level of ptau181. The blood tests were significantly similar to what the PET scans and the samples of spinal fluid showed. This makes the researchers and experts hope that the study could soon convert into a common procedure for early Alzheimer’s diagnostic, and further help with the treatment research.
Earlier this year, a similar study was released with 88.6% accuracy. Researchers there found a way for diagnosis of Alzheimer’s via multiplexed sensing of core biomarkers in human plasma using densely aligned carbon nanotubes.