Scientists have identified a protein that could be an early indicator for Alzheimer's disease, it emerged today.
Researchers found that higher concentrations of clusterin, a protein in the blood plasma, appear to be associated with the condition.
It is hoped the breakthrough could lead to the development of a simple blood test for detecting Alzheimer's, one of the most common forms of dementia.
The King's College, London-based team studied clusterin levels in 689 people -- including 464 with the illness -- and found a link between higher levels of the protein and severity of disease in the brain.
Increased clusterin in the blood was also associated with having more of the amyloid-beta protein -- which form some of the brain abnormalities behind Alzheimer's.
The report authors said: "These findings reveal a robust peripheral signature of this protein that is responsive to key features of disease pathology.
"These results may have wider implications for the identification of other proteins, both as disease biomarkers as well as drug targets of treatments."