Melbourne researchers hope for Alzheimer's blood test in three years

Professor Andrew Hill (third from left back row) and his team.

A simple blood test to diagnose early onset Alzheimer's disease could be as close as three years away, according to researchers at the University of Melbourne.

Professor Andrew Hill and his team looked at the gene-regulating molecules of microRNA in people with Alzheimer's disease and compared them with those who did not.

"The first part of the study we sequenced 50 people - 23 had Alzheimer's and 23 were controls and then there were another few that were in an in-between stage," Professor Hill told Australian television. He said his team could identify 16 out of 1,400 microRNA that had changed in Alzheimer's patients.

Early detection could lead to treatments that slows the onset of the crippling disease, he said. Hill's team will also now investigate whether microRNA was involved in the progress of the Alzheimer's.

"That's something that we haven't been able to show so far, we just are basically looking for a marker of Alzheimer's disease using a simple laboratory test that measures the number of these microRNAs in the blood samples," he said.

The work has taken three years so far and if the results are validated, a blood test could be rolled out in three to five years, Hill said.

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