Researchers from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) have tracked down molecules in the blood that could indicate impending dementia. According to a report by the UMG, the concentration of certain microRNAs indicates the risk of mental degradation. The scientists base their findings on human and laboratory studies. Various university clinics across Germany were involved in the investigations.
According to UMG information, the biomarker described by a team led by Prof. André Fischer is based on the measurement of the concentration of so-called microRNAs. The process is not yet practicable. The aim of the scientists is therefore to develop a simple blood test in order to be able to assess the risk of dementia in routine medical practice. According to the study data, microRNAs could possibly also be targets for dementia therapy, according to a press release.
Recognize illness at an early stage
“When symptoms of dementia become noticeable, the brain is already massively damaged. The diagnosis is currently far too late to even have a chance of effective treatment. If dementia is detected early, the chances of positively influencing the course of the disease increase, ”says Fischer, head of the research group and spokesman at the DZNE site in Göttingen and professor at the UMG’s clinic for psychiatry and psychotherapy. “We need tests that ideally respond when dementia has not yet broken out and reliably assess the risk of a later disease. So they warn early on. We are confident that our current study results will pave the way for such tests. “
The biomarker that Fischer and his colleagues found is based on the measurement of so-called microRNAs in the blood. MicroRNAs are molecules with a regulatory effect: They influence the production of proteins and thus a central process in the metabolism of every living being. “There are many different microRNAs and each of them can regulate entire networks of interdependent proteins and thus influence complex processes in the organism. MicroRNAs therefore have a broad effect. We wanted to find out whether there are special microRNAs whose occurrence in the blood correlates with mental fitness, ”says Fischer.
According to those responsible, the newly found indicator still has to be checked further, and the current measurement method is too complex for practical use: “In future studies, we want to clinically validate this biomarker. We would also like to develop a simple test procedure, ”says Fischer. “Our goal is a cost-effective test, similar to the rapid test for Sars-Cov-2 with the difference that you would need a drop of blood for our purposes. Such a test could be used in routine medical examinations in order to detect an increased risk of dementia at an early stage. People for whom the results are conspicuous could then undergo more complex diagnostics. “
From Claudia Bartels