Molecule in urine ‘could be first to detect early-stage Alzheimer’s’

A new study is the first to identify a molecule in urine that can reveal early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

The research suggests the discovery could pave the way for a cheap and convenient test for the disease.

In other words, it’s possible that a simple urine test to analyze formic acid — a sensitive urinary biomarker — could reveal whether someone has early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers tested 574 people who had Alzheimer’s disease of varying levels of severity, or otherwise healthy people, to identify differences in urinary biomarkers.

They found that urinary formic acid is a sensitive marker of subjective cognitive decline (self-reported experience of worsening or more frequent confusion or memory loss) that can indicate the very early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Current methods of diagnosing the condition are expensive, inconvenient, and unsuitable for routine screening.

The researchers suggest this means that many patients only receive a diagnosis when it is too late for effective treatment.

The study authors from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the Institute of Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said: ‘Alzheimer’s disease is an ongoing and hidden chronic disease, which means it can develop and last for many years before evidence of obvious cognitive impairment.

“The early stages of the disease occur before the irreversible stage of dementia, and this is the golden window for intervention and treatment.

“Therefore, large-scale screening for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease is needed for the elderly.”

Scientists analyzed people’s urine and blood samples and performed psychological evaluations.

They found that urinary formic acid levels were significantly increased in all Alzheimer’s groups compared to healthy people, including the early-stage cognitive decline group, and correlated with cognitive decline.

According to the researchers, this suggests that formic acid could act as a sensitive biomarker for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

When formic acid levels were analyzed in conjunction with blood tests, the study found that the stage of the disease the patient was experiencing could be predicted more accurately.

The study authors say more research is needed to understand the link between Alzheimer’s and formic acid.

But writing in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, they said: ‘Urine formic acid has shown excellent sensitivity for early screening for Alzheimer’s.

“Detection of urinary Alzheimer’s biomarkers is convenient and cost-effective and should be performed during routine physical examinations of older adults.”

Sian Gregory, research information manager at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This is an exciting discovery as it offers a potential new way to detect Alzheimer’s that is less invasive and more cost-effective than current methods of diagnosing Alzheimer’s. disease.

“This has never been more important, with rates of dementia diagnoses at a five-year low.”

He added: “Research like this could give us new tools to revolutionize the way we detect Alzheimer’s to help target treatments to the right people at the right time.”

Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Strategy Initiatives at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘While a combination of blood and urine diagnostic markers could one day provide tests that help improve the accuracy of Alzheimer’s diagnoses for people across the UK, we still need more research to understand how formic acid in urine is linked to disease.

“We need to see larger studies that follow more people over longer periods of time, which would help evaluate whether urine formic acid could be used as a biomarker for Alzheimer’s.”

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