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Early Arrival

Scientists have long been searching for biomarkers for early detection of Alzheimer's disease. Now, new research suggests that such markers might be apparent even earlier than thought.

In a study published this week in The Lancet Neurology, a team of researchers found that biomarkers linked to Alzheimer's were apparent at least 20 years before the onset of symptoms.

The findings came from a study of young adults from a population in Colombia with a high prevalence of a mutation in the presenilin 1, or PSEN1, gene, which leads to the development of Alzheimer's at an early age. In an analysis of 44 subjects — 20 who carried the mutation and 24 who did not — the researchers found differences in brain structure and function between the two groups.

They also found increased cerebrospinal fluid levels of amyloid beta — an established protein biomarker for Alzheimer's — in mutation carriers well in advance of clinical onset of the disease.

Alzheimer's is a key area of focus for the pharmaceutical industry, but drug development efforts have had little success with many researchers suggesting that by the time patients present with symptoms the disease may be too far progressed to treat effectively. It's hoped that early detection biomarkers could enable identification of presymptomatic Alzheimer's patients and improve their therapeutic options.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.