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Simple urine test may be key in detecting neurodegenerative disease affecting millions

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an estimated 6.5 million adults 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease. 

The disease results in a rapid cognitive decline that cannot be reversed. However, if caught early the progression can be slowed. Scientists from the University of British Columbia say a simple urine test could be the key to early detection. 

Researchers tested the cognition levels of 574 participants and divided them into multiple groups based on their scores. Scores ranged from normal cognition to full on confirmed cases of Alzheimer’s disease. They then looked at urine levels of formic acid and formaldehyde. Scientists found significantly higher concentrations of both formic acid and formaldehyde in patients with Alzheimer’s disease compared to patients with healthy brains with no signs of dementia. 

“Urinary formic acid showed an excellent sensitivity for early Alzheimer’s screening,” authors say in the paper. “The detection of urine biomarkers of Alzheimer’s is convenient and cost-effective, and it should be performed during routine physical examinations of the elderly.” 

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.