Cambridge scientists have shown that it is possible to spot signs of brain impairment in patients as early as nine years before they receive a diagnosis for one of a number of dementia-related diseases.
In research published today in Alzheimers & Dementia, the team analyzed data from the UK Biobank and found impairment in several areas, such as problem solving and number recall, across a range of conditions.
The findings raise the possibility that in the future, at-risk patients could be screened to help select those who would benefit from interventions to reduce their risk of developing one of the conditions, or to help identify patients suitable for recruitment to clinical trials for new treatments.
There are currently very few effective treatments for dementia or other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease. In part, this is because these conditions are often only diagnosed once symptoms appear, whereas the underlying neurodegeneration may have begun years—even decades—earlier. This means that by the time patients take part in clinical trials, it may already be too late in the disease process to alter its course.