Healthcare: On the Agenda - Test could predict Alzheimer's early

In a nutshell

The neurological decline that leads to Alzheimer's disease may begin in middle-age and could be predicted with a simple test, research has found. A study led by Professor David Bunce of the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University and Brunel University, west London, revealed that some apparently healthy adults aged 44 to 48 have minute white matter lesions in areas of their brains similar to those found in people with Alzheimer's disease later in life.

Why is it important?

The neurological decline thought to lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease may begin much earlier in people's lives than was originally thought. The results could allow scientists to develop simple tests to predict which individuals may develop the lesions that cause the disease. Detecting early signs of Alzheimer's would allow earlier treatment and possible prevention.

The research

The paper, Cognitive Deficits are Associated with Frontal and Temporal Lobe White Matter Lesions in Middle-Aged Adults Living in the Community, appears in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, published by the Public Library of Science.

PR strategy

The Australian National University and Brunel University worked together to ensure maximum global media outreach. Brunel distributed an embargoed press release through PR agency Communications Management.

Media coverage

The story received extensive coverage in Australia and in the UK. Highlights included the front page of the Daily Mail.

417k - Number of people affected by Alzheimer's in the UK

4-12 - Number of weeks it could take to make a diagnosis.

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