A research team of Seoul National University has developed a blood test-based Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis technology.

The team, led by professors Mook In-hee and Lee Dong-young, said it found a way to forecast the deposition of tau protein in the brain with a blood test. Tau protein is known as one of the inducers of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for about 70 percent of all cases of dementia. The disease affects patients’ memory, communication ability, thought. It occurs when certain brain cells are damaged.

As it is incurable but preventable, detecting Alzheimer’s disease at an early stage is important as patients can slow down the progression of the disease with proper treatment.

The research team found that the amount of tau protein in the blood correlates to the amount accumulated in the brain.

“The existing Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis technologies have focused on beta-amyloid protein ― another inducing substance of Alzheimer’s disease, but we focused on the amount of the tau protein accumulated in the brain,” Mook said.

The research team said the blood test-based diagnosis technology will be affordable to more people. “For Alzheimer’s diagnosis, people need to take a positron-emission tomography (PET) scan to see the accumulated amount of the tau protein but it costs too much, so there has been a necessity for developing a new method that is affordable to more people,” the team said.

Mook said the researchers are aiming to raise the accuracy of the blood test-based diagnosis technology.

“The accuracy of checking abnormal deposition of tau protein in the brain is about 85 percent. By conducting further research, we are aiming to raise the accuracy to 95 percent,” Mook said.

The team’s thesis, which contains its experiment with the new technology, was published in scientific journal Brain: A Journal of Neurology, on Monday. The research team was backed by funding of the Ministry of Science and ICT.

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