PITTSBURGH, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- A team of researchers have developed a technology that could be instrumental in the early detection of Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers from the International Center for Biomedicine, University of Chile and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, have been able to detect the pathological oligomeric forms of brain tau protein in human blood platelets in patients with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Most significantly, they found that the ratio between the anomalous tau and normal tau protein can identify Alzheimer's patients from normal controls, and are associated with decreased cognitive impairment.
The research was led by Dr. Ricardo Maccioni and the research teams of Dr. Andrea Slachevsky of the University of Chile Faculty of Medicine and Dr. Oscar Lopez and Dr. James Becker of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
The findings showed that the relationship between the pathological and normal variants of tau were associated with the reduction of cerebral volume in key structures linked to the disease. The structures, left medial and right anterior cingulate gyri, right cerebellum, right thalamus (pulvinar), left frontal cortex, and right parahippocampal region, coincided with MRI neuroimaging approaches.
The identification of peripheral tau markers in platelets could lead to the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease before symptoms are present and could play a role in developing preventive therapies.