Spinal fluid could contain key to accurate Alzheimer's diagnosis

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A substance found in spinal fluid could be used to accurately diagnose Alzheimer's disease, according to new research.

Scientists at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have discovered a beta-amyloid protein called Abeta16 in human spinal fluid. Amyloid plaques are a common characteristic in Alzheimer's-affected brains. According to the study, the Alzheimer's brain will secrete dozens of different types of amyloid proteins into the spinal fluid around the brain, which can then be very precisely analyzed. In two independent studies, researchers discovered elevated levels of Abeta 16 in the spinal fluid of Alzheimer's patients compared with the spinal fluid from healthy individuals.

The accuracy and sensitivity of the Abeta 16 biomarker could help direct researchers when experimenting with new medications to treat Alzheimer's, according to the report's author.