This unique test can predict dementia up to 9 years before diagnosis

This unique test can predict dementia up to 9 years before diagnosis
This unique test can predict dementia up to 9 years before diagnosis

It may soon be possible to predict dementia risk. Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have developed a method to estimate the risk of developing dementia with more than 80% accuracy, and nine years ahead of diagnosis. They present this new technique in Nature Mental Health.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: MRI analyzes to estimate risk

This new screening tool is based on the analysis of functional MRIs. These examinations allow us to observe areas of the brain associated with specific functions such as vision, language or memory. In total, they worked on the functional MRIs of more than 1,100 participants, from a vast British medical database. The scientific team was interested in changes in what they call the “network in default mode” (DMN) of the brain. “The DMN connects regions of the brain to activate specific cognitive functions and is the first neural network to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease.they specify in a press release.

Know the risk of dementia nine years before diagnosis

They assigned each patient a dementia probability value using DMN analysis. Then, they compared the predictions with the patients’ medical data. “Results showed that the model accurately predicted the onset of dementia up to nine years before a formal diagnosis was made, and with greater than 80% accuracy.they conclude. In cases where volunteers developed dementia, it was also found that the model could predict with a margin of error of two years exactly how long it would take for that diagnosis to be made.”

The new test has another advantage: it is very quick and easy to perform. “MRI is a non-invasive medical imaging tool and it takes approximately 6 minutes to collect the necessary data on a scanner.”underlines Samuel Ereira, co-author of the study.

Identify people who may benefit from dementia treatment

For Charles Marshall, neurologist and director of this research, these results are valuable for future research. “Predicting who will suffer from dementia in the future will be vital for developing treatments that can prevent the irreversible loss of brain cells that causes dementia symptomshe believes. Although we can better detect brain proteins that can cause Alzheimer’s disease, many people live for decades with these proteins in their brains without developing symptoms of dementia.” He hopes that measuring brain function will provide a more accurate prediction of dementia risk and estimate the timing of its onset, so that he can identify people who will benefit from treatment. According to the World Health Organization, more than 55 million people suffer from dementia worldwide and currently there is no cure.

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