Nov 3, 2015

Diagnostic Method for Alzheimer´s Becomes International Standard

A method for standardized measurements that diagnoses Alzheimer’s decades in advance has been developed by researchers at Gothenburg University.

Alzheimer's Image Brain | Alzheimer's Reading Room

The method has been formally classified as the international reference method, which means that it will be used as the standard in Alzheimer’s diagnostics worldwide.

By Alzheimer's Reading Room


Henrik Zetterberg and Kaj Blennow at Sahlgrenska Academy were able to develop a method that measures the exact amount of beta amyloid in spinal fluid and diagnose Alzheimer’s ten to thirty years before the disease becomes symptomatic.

Global reference

The Gothenburg researchers’ pioneering studies have gained wide international recognition since the measurement method they developed was approved as the global reference method.

“This means that the method will be used as the norm for standardizing beta amyloid measurements around the world. With the help of the standard, people who are worried about Alzheimer’s disease can be tested, and get the same results regardless of whether it is done in San Francisco, Sao Paolo, London, Gothenburg or Cape town,” says Kaj Blennow.

Amyloid remain in the brain

Everyone naturally builds the beta amyloid protein in his or her brain. The protein’s normal function is not completely mapped, but one theory is that it participates in the formation and removal of synapses, which is vital in enabling the brain to form new memories.

Beta amyloid built by healthy people is quickly transported out to the spinal fluid and blood. But with Alzheimer’s, the beta amyloids remain in the brain, where they clump together and begin to damage the synapses, which leads to brain, nerve cell death.

This process can begin in middle age and continue unnoticed for decades until the nerve cells are so damaged that symptoms take the form of a memory disorder and impaired cognitive abilities.

At that point, the disease is felt to be too advanced to be treated, so intensive worldwide research is underway to find methods that diagnose Alzheimer’s sooner.

Promising result for drug candidates

This major advance coincides with recent studies that show promising results for different drug candidates that attack Alzheimer’s disease and target beta amyloids.
“These new drugs will likely prove most effective for persons who have just begun to accumulate beta amyloids in their brain. Then a well-proven and standardized method becomes crucial, as it ensures that these people are identified in a diagnostically safe and precise manner,” says Kaj Blennow.

Check out these custom searches for more information.

Alzheimer's Stages

Alzheimer's Symptoms

Alzheimer's and dementia

Related Content

Problems with Balance, Walking, Falling Can Be an Early Sign of Dementia

How Do Alzheimer's Patients Die?

The First Sign of Alzheimer's Short Term Memory Loss

The Alzheimer's Reading Room contains more than 5,000 articles, and has been published daily since July, 2009.

You are reading original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room