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Alzheimer’s Disease: A blood biomarker can detect it decades before symptoms manifest

Increased levels of NFL in the blood samples could indicate Alzheimer’s Disease, find the researchers. ©Shutterstock

Alzheimer's Disease is a brain disorder with symptoms appearing after much of the damage is done. But the good news is, a blood test is likely to arrive soon that will help in the detection of this condition quite early on.

Written by Saswati Sarkar |Updated : June 3, 2020 9:45 PM IST

Alzheimer's Disease, a neurodegenerative disorder of the brain, affects millions all across the world. Living with this condition, characterised by decline of memory and other cognitive skills like thinking and reasoning, can be a real challenge. What makes it even more challenging is the fact that the symptoms appear decades after much of the damage has been done. So, catching the early signs of this neurological degeneration is very crucial for the management of Alzheimer's Disease. In a recent development, scientists have identified a biomarker that can detect this condition much earlier than the symptoms occur. The name of the biomarker is Neurofilament light chain (NfL). Reported in The Lancet Neurology journal, this latest development is surely a ray of hope for people living with Alzheimer's Disease.


Neurofilament light chain is a protein found in the cerebrospinal fluid and blood plasma. Scientists consider it to be a promising biomarker for any neurodegenerative disorder including Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease,multiple sclerosis, so on and so forth.


According to the observations of the study, a simple blood test can detect this condition. Increased levels of NfL in one's blood samples could indicate Alzheimer's Disease, find the researchers. The study looked at 1000 people in the age bracket of 8-22 with high risk of Alzheimer's Disease due to a familial genetic mutation. Significantly, increasing NfL levels could be detected as early as 22 years of age. However, the average age at which the symptoms of this type of Alzheimer's Disease manifests is 44. This blood test, however, isn't yet available. Researchers are of the opinion that more research is necessary to validate the accuracy of this biomarker.

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It's okay to be mildly forgetful as you age. But if your memory issues start affecting your daily life, then it could be a sign of Alzheimer's Disease. Here are the tell-tale signs of this condition apart from memory loss

You find it tough to solve problems

Yes, this could be an important sign of Alzheimer's Disease. Check if you find it difficult to make and implement plans, concentrate on tasks that demand detailing or focus on a task that involves numbers. If you are unable to keep a track of your bills or check book find it these red flags.

Performing daily tasks becomes difficult

One of the signs of this condition is difficulty in performing familiar tasks. Even an ordinary chore may make you feel uncomfortable if you are suffering from a neurodegenerative disorder like Alzheimer's Disease. You will forget an oft-visited location and even the rules of a game that you play quite frequently.

You are losing the concept of time and space

If you find yourself incapable of figuring out where you are, or the time zone you are currently in, then it's a matter of concern for sure. This indicates a problem in your brain's data processing skill, which is probably getting compromised. Consult a neurologist immediately.

Your judgement is compromised

Are you making mistakes while making important decisions of late? Well, we all take wrong decisions in life. But if it has become a pattern, then don't take it lightly. It could be the sign of Alzheimer's or any other neurodegenerative disorder.

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