Dementia: Your pee could reveal early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, says new study

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Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia – a currently incurable neurodegenerative condition which affects millions around the world. The key to prolonging the effects of Alzheimer’s is an early diagnosis, however, often the condition is diagnosed far too late for anything to be done about it. This could change with a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

The new research has found Alzheimer’s could be detected in your pee with the discovery that urinary formic acid is a marker for subjective cognitive decline.

The study had 574 participants who were either healthy psychologically or had different forms of Alzheimer’s progression.

It was from these participants that blood and urine samples were taken and the conclusions reached by the authors.

Should this technique prove successful on larger cohorts, it could be a game changer for Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

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While current methods of diagnosis are expensive and unsuitable for regular screening, all this method would require is a urine test.

The authors of the study wrote: “Alzheimer’s disease is a continuous and concealed chronic disease, meaning that it can develop and last for many years before obvious cognitive impairment emerges,” said the authors.

“The early stages of the disease occur before the irreversible dementia stage, and this is the golden window for intervention and treatment. Therefore, large-scale screening for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease is necessary for the elderly.”

They added: “Urinary formic acid showed an excellent sensitivity for early Alzheimer’s screening. The detection of urine biomarkers of Alzheimer’s is convenient and cost-effective, and it should be performed during routine physical examinations of the elderly.”

The news of this test comes hours after a breakthrough in the treatment for Alzheimer’s.

Research results show that a new drug, known as Lecanemab, can remove clumps of protein from the brain and slow cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients.

Director of the UK Dementia Research Institute at University College London Bart De Strooper said: “This is the first drug that provides a real treatment option for Alzheimer patients.

“While the clinical benefits appear somewhat limited, it can be expected that they will become more apparent over time.”

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What is lecanemab?

Lecanemab is an antibody therapy that works by removing lumps of protein known as amyloid beta from the brain. It is this protein which causes Alzheimer’s disease to progress.

Talking to the Guardian, Professor Nick Fox said: “I believe it confirms a new era of disease modification for Alzheimer’s disease.

An era that comes after more than 20 years of hard work on anti-amyloid immunotherapies, by many, many people, and many disappointments along the way.”

Dementia is one of the most significant killers in the UK, each year pulling families apart as it works away at each patient.

Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:
• Forgetting about recent conversations or events
• Misplacing items
• Forgetting the names of places and objects
• Having trouble thinking of the right word
• Asking questions repetitively
• Showing poor judgement or finding it harder to make decisions
• Becoming less flexible and more hesitant to try new things.

The NHS adds: “There are often signs of mood changes, such as increasing anxiety or agitation, or periods of confusion.”

Furthermore, as the disease progresses, the symptoms will worsen and the patient will eventually deteriorate.

The goal of new treatments is to stop this from happening or to delay the speed at which it occurs.

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