Blood Test Developed To Predict Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) is the second most prevalent form of dementia next to Alzheimer's disease. Occurring in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, FTD affects speech, general behavior, and personality of its victims. Symptoms can appear as early as one's fifties.

FTD is not only distinguished from Alzheimer's by early onset. Though certain behaviors may overlap in symptoms such as lack of self awareness, inability to speak intelligibly, or changes in personality, the memory of an FTD affected individual is likely to stay in tact until late in the disease. In Alzheimer’s, decline in memory is one of the first signs of the disease.

Recently, considerable research has been conducted on the role of a growth protein called progranulin in neurodegenerative diseases. Because an abundance of this protein has been associated with cancer, progranulin was not an obvious potential factor for any role in dementia. And it took 10 years of dedicated research by North American and European scientists to learn that progranulin plays a very large role one neurodegenerative disease - FTD.

What scientists now know is that the FTD patient is not producing enough of the progranulin protein, and that this is due to a mutation in the progranulin gene on chromosome 17. This mutation is generally inherited.

Researchers worldwide are now looking at possible relationships between progranulin production and other neurodegenerative diseases. As well, they are looking for potential cures for FTD; there are none at this time. However, a group of researchers at the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) has developed a simple blood test to check for progranulin amounts in the blood which would predict FTD.

How long it will take before the blood test is available, it is not known. But if this knowledge is important to you, we'll all be on the lookout.

Innovations Report, Journal of Neuroinflammation, Science Daily. Image: Wikipedia


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