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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 14:05 EDT

Biomarker May Help Predict Alzheimer’s

July 19, 2012

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Alzheimer´s is a progressive disease that affects approximately 5.3 million Americans, particularly the elderly. These numbers are expected to increase, unless a cure is found. New research shows the higher levels of a certain fat in the blood called ceramides may increase a person´s chance of developing Alzheimer´s disease.

Study author Michelle M. Mielke, Ph.D, an epidemiologist with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. was quoted as saying, “Our study identifies this biomarker as a potential new target for treating or preventing Alzheimer’s disease.” Dr. Mielke was with Johns Hopkins University at the time of the research.

For the study, 99 women between the ages of 70 and 79 and free of had their blood tested for levels of serum ceramides, a fatty compound found throughout the body that is associated with inflammation and cell death. The participants were placed into three groups: high, middle and low levels of ceramides. They were then followed for up to nine years. Of the 99 participants, 27 developed dementia and 18 of those were diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s disease.

The study found that women who had the highest levels of the biomarker were 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than women with the lowest levels. Those with middle levels of the biomarker were nearly eight times more likely to develop the disease than those with the lowest levels.

In an accompanying editorial, Valory Pavlik, Ph.D, with the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, was quoted as saying, “These findings are important because identifying an accurate biomarker for early Alzheimer’s that requires little cost and inconvenience to a patient could help change our focus from treating the disease to preventing or delaying it.”

“While a larger, more diverse study is needed to confirm these findings, projections that the global prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease will double every 20 years for the foreseeable future have certainly increased the sense of urgency among researchers and health care agencies to identify more effective screening, prevention and treatment strategies,” Dr. Pavlik was quoted as saying.

Source: American Academy Of Neurology July 2012