Medical research (file)
Medical research (file) Keren Freeman/Flash 90

Alzheimer’s disease affects some 35 million people worldwide and is expected to affect 115 million by 2050, but the disease cannot be detected before it has already caused loss of memory and function.

Even then, a long series of tests is required to accurately diagnose Alzheimer's disease, including costly brain imagining scans and even, sometimes, invasive cerebral spinal fluid tests to rule out other diseases.

However, a new discovery by Tel Aviv University, Technion (Rambam Medical Center), and Harvard University researchers is taking the medical community on "a leap forward" in the process of effectively screening and diagnosing Alzheimer's disease, according to a Tel Aviv University press release.

The new study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, proposes a new biomarker for cognitive aging and Alzheimer's disease. It is called activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP), and its levels can be easily monitored in routine blood tests.

The study also found that ADNP levels tested in the blood correlate with higher IQ in healthy older adults.

Significant increases in ADNP RNA levels were observed in patients ranging from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's dementia.

The research was led by Prof. Illana Gozes, the incumbent of the Lily and Avraham Gildor Chair for the Investigation of Growth Factors. "This study has provided the basis to detect this biomarker in routine, non-invasive blood tests, and it is known that early intervention is invaluable to Alzheimer's patients," said Prof. Gozes. "We are now planning to take these preliminary findings forward into clinical trials — to create a pre-Alzheimer's test that will help to tailor potential preventative treatments."

The study was conducted by TAU PhD student Anna Malishkevich and spearheaded by Dr. Gad Marshall, Dr. Aaron Schultz, and Prof. Reisa Sperling of Harvard University, and Prof. Judith Aharon-Peretz of Rambam Medical Center – The Technion Institute of Technology.