Could genetic test detect Alzheimer's at early age?

Scientists may have discovered a new way to detect which people are likely to develop cognitive impairment later on in life.

A study conducted for the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative and published this month in Neurology looked at the known gene variants associated with an increased Alzheimer's disease risk. A genetic test developed by Massachusetts General Hospital found that for those already diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, the higher they scored on the test, the more likely they were to develop the disease.

A higher score on the genetic test was also associated with a smaller hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory. In healthy subjects 35 and younger, a smaller hippocampus was also associated with a higher score on the test.

Further research and testing is needed, but scientists believe that polygenic risk scores may help identify younger people who are at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease as they age.