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Australian scientists from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, led by Noel Faux, have discovered a link between Alzheimer’s disease and the blood disorder, anaemia. The research has shown that having Alzheimer’s disease leads to lower blood hemoglobin levels and is a major risk factor for developing an untreatable form of anaemia. Anaemia is a lack of red blood cells and/or the iron-rich molecule in red blood cells (hemoglobin) that carries oxygen throughout the body and gives blood its red color.
“It’s a little left field, so to speak, because when people think of Alzheimer’s and dementia they think of the head; they think of the brain. Recently, research has been moving into the blood, and a lot of that research is more around finding a marker that allows us to identify people who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.” Faux said. However further research is needed to fully understand the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and anaemia.
“We don’t understand exactly what that relationship is, outside that there is a relationship. Our hypothesis is that the process of Alzheimer’s manifesting within the red blood cells that will actually lead to the anaemia that we see,” according to Faux. “So, our biggest hope is finding a way in which we can treat the anaemia – not to cure Alzheimer’s, but actually treat anaemia,” he add.
The findings are published in the latest edition of the journal, Molecular Psychiatry.