Simple blood test for dementia could be possible, according to new research
Nicholas Ashton, Senior Researcher in Michael Schöll’s Group within WCMTM and Assistant Professor at the Department of Neurochemistry at the University of Gothenburg, is the lead author of a new study showing that a simple biomarker can indicate the presence of underlying neurodegeneration being the cause of those suffering cognitive issues.
Levels of a protein called neurofilament light chain (NfL) in the blood can identify those who have neurodegenerative diseases such as Down’s syndrome dementia, motor neuron disease (ALS), and frontotemporal dementia when the clinical symptoms are not definitive.
The study, published in Nature Communication, was led by King’s College London, in collaboration with several researchers at The University of Gothenburg and Professor Oskar Hansson, Lund University.
“Plasma NfL is a well-known general indicator of neurodegeneration but in specific clinical considerations it has tremendous use. In this study, for example, it can very accurately highlight axonal injury in patients with Down syndrome, specific Parkinson’s disorders and motor neurone disease”, says Nicholas Ashton.
Ashton also notes that plasma NfL can also be useful in earlier disease onsets: “Importantly, NfL is very useful to indicate if depressive symptoms are the onset of neurodegeneration or not – which is a very useful tool in early onset neurodegenerative disorders such as frontotemporal dementia which can present with psychiatric syndromes”