A SCOTTISH research firm is teaming up with a global leader in diagnostic technology for what is hoped to result in a “transformative” new blood test that would allow doctors to identify Alzheimer’s disease earlier.

Edinburgh-based Scottish Brain Sciences announced it is to collaborate with Roche Diagnostics on a series of major projects, which founder Professor Craig Ritchie said could have “big impacts”.

The work aims to provide a better understanding of the earliest biological changes of neurodegenerative disease using blood based bio-markers.

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It comes as more recent evidence has suggested changes could take place in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients before symptoms of the disease are present.

And it is hoped that being able to characterise and detect theses changes could lead to accurate early diagnostic tests, potentially allowing for patients to get treatment sooner.

Prof Ritchie said: “Early detection of brain changes associated with the earliest stages of neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s disease through blood testing will be transformative in the way we assess, manage, and conceptualise clinically Alzheimer’s disease.

“It will open the door to interventions used very early in the course of disease that are better targeted than current treatments.

“There will be an expectation of big impacts on disease course and even prevention of the late-stage dementia syndromes associated with neurodegenerative disease.”

He said he was “delighted” Roche Diagnostics had chosen to work with his frim, describing the move as “a huge vote of confidence in the Scottish life sciences sector”.

Dr Ashton Harper, director of medical affairs for Roche Diagnostics UK and Ireland, said that Alzheimer’s disease was the major cause of dementia, which is currently the leading cause of death in the UK.

Dr Harper stated: “Early and accurate diagnosis of this condition has numerous advantages such as appropriate and timely management of symptoms, access to clinical trials and enabling future planning.

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“Earlier diagnosis may also delay the need for residential care and reduce costs for health and social care.

“We are proud that through partnerships, like this one with Scottish Brain Sciences, Roche is driving the innovation which will help to deliver a future where early and accurate diagnosis is available to benefit all individuals and families affected by this terrible disease.”