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New test predicts dementia up to nine years before diagnosis

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 16 days ago

A groundbreaking new test has been developed that can predict dementia up to nine years before diagnosis, with an impressive 80% accuracy. This new technique has the potential to fill a significant clinical gap by identifying individuals who are at risk of developing dementia and providing treatment before symptoms manifest.

The test involves analyzing the network of connections in the brain during its "idle mode" to detect early signs of the condition. Researchers from Queen Mary University of London have found that this method is more effective than traditional memory tests or brain shrinkage measurements commonly used to diagnose dementia.

The study, led by Professor Charles Marshall, examined brain scans from over 1,100 individuals from the UK Biobank database, which contains genetic and health information from half a million people in the UK. By analyzing the connections in a brain network called the default mode network (DMN), researchers were able to predict which individuals would go on to be diagnosed with dementia.

Among the 103 individuals who were diagnosed with dementia, brain scans showed less connectivity in the default mode network compared to those who did not develop dementia. Professor Marshall stated that predicting who will develop dementia in the future is crucial for developing treatments that can prevent the irreversible loss of brain cells that cause dementia symptoms.

While the research shows promise in identifying structural changes in the brain before dementia symptoms appear, Dr. Richard Oakley of Alzheimer's Society emphasized the need for further studies involving diverse groups of people to fully understand the benefits and limitations of this MRI scan as a diagnostic tool.

The findings of this study have been published in the journal Nature Mental Health, offering hope for more accurate and timely detection of dementia in the future.

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