A new genetic test may be able to identify people who are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 35 years old.

Most drugs are made to slow down symptoms from disease, it’s much more difficult to spot diseases early on. Scientists in the US are developing methods to catch the disease before symptoms surface. A study was published in the journal Neurology.

“Dementia is caused by a complex interplay of genetics, lifestyle and environment so this risk score, which exclusively looks at genetics, can only give us part of the picture,” Said Dr. Doug Brown, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Society.

The testing, developed by Massachusetts General hospital, combines gene variants that are known to raise the risk of Alzheimer’s. With their genetic testing, people who scored higher for cognitive impairment were more likely to fully develop dementia and were more likely to have a smaller hippocampus, which is crucial for memory and spatial awareness. Scientists studied the genes of 166 people with dementia and 1,026 without using MRI images and polygenic testing to create scoring for the test. The average age was 75. Scientists then calculated the same risk score and hippocampal volume in 1,322 people between the ages of 18 and 35.

Dr Brown said: “This study provides evidence that creating a ‘risk score’ based on a combination of several different genes could possibly be used to predict whether someone has a higher chance of developing memory problems.”

Scientists discovered that people aged 35 and younger who scored on the higher end for the test had a small hippocampus and were likely to develop the disease later in life. Younger adults with various genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s have a smaller hippocampal volume, said Elizabeth Mormino, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of the study.

“The best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to take regular exercise, avoid smoking and eat a healthy, balanced diet,” said Dr Brown.

This type of early detection methods could help lower the effects from the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. While it’s not curable as of now, methods can be taken to reduce risk and protects ones self.