Researchers Develop Blood Test for Alzheimer’s

Elderly person with a red string tied around fingerResearchers may have discovered a blood test for detecting Alzheimer’s, according to a study published in Analytical Chemistry. The blood test is not yet available, and will not become so until more research can be done.

The Alzheimer’s Association reports Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, with 1 in 3 seniors dying with Alzheimer’s or some other type of dementia.

A Blood Test for Alzheimer’s

The test uses an infrared sensor to analyze blood or cerebrospinal fluid. In the study, this approach allowed researchers to test for a biomarker associated with Amyloid beta peptides. Most research suggests Alzheimer’s is due to distribution of Amyloid beta peptides, which may appear many years before symptoms begin.

The researchers drew samples from 141 patients, achieving accurate results for 84% of blood samples and 90% of cerebrospinal fluid samples. This suggests it might eventually be possible to use blood samples to diagnose Alzheimer’s.

Is Early Detection Beneficial?

Alzheimer’s produces changes in the body long before symptoms become visible. According to the study, the blood test could enable detection as early as 15 years before symptoms appear. Alzheimer’s is not curable, but some treatments may work more effectively at the early stages of the disease. People who currently have Alzheimer’s typically only seek testing after they start showing symptoms, when significant deterioration has already occurred. Earlier detection could produce better outcomes for people who seek early treatment.

The blood test is not yet widely available, and there are no plans to make it available to the general public. Instead, researchers must test the procedure on a wider group before expanding access to the test.

Current Alzheimer’s diagnostic procedures are correlative in nature, relying on symptoms, brain scans, and ruling out other diagnoses. The only definitive way to diagnose Alzheimer’s is through examination of brain tissue. In addition to providing earlier detection, the new test could one day offer a more accurate diagnosis.

References:

  1. Alzheimer’s Association. (n.d.). Why get checked. Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_why_get_checked.asp
  2. Latest Alzheimer’s facts and figures. (2013, September 17). Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/facts/
  3. Neurology Specialists of Monmouth County. (2012, December 23). Diagnostic testing for Alzheimer’s? Retrieved from https://mmcneuro.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/diagnostic-testing-for-alzheimers/
  4. Novel blood test for Alzheimer’s diagnosis. (2016, April 15). Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/rb-nbt031516.php
  5. Tests for Alzheimer’s & dementia. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_steps_to_diagnosis.asp

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  • Reza

    Reza

    March 21st, 2016 at 10:43 AM

    I would be afraid to have the test unless I knew that being detected for it super early would give me a fighting chance to not develop it. I guess I am one of those people who would rather just let it come if it is meant to especially if there was no way that I could prevent it form happening. I would just live in fear every day of waking up and there it would be.

  • ginger

    ginger

    March 21st, 2016 at 3:43 PM

    Having lost several family members to this horrid disease I am afraid that it is in the cards for me but I am also afraid that if I knew that for sure I might not have the will to live. That sounds awful but if you haven’t seen it take away someone so vital then it’s hard to even explain how devastating it is.

  • BetsyF

    BetsyF

    March 22nd, 2016 at 10:31 AM

    Yes I would take the test and I would want to know if I have the genetic markers that says that I will get this disease. That way I can make sure that before my mind goes I will have the time to say to everyone everything that I think that I need to say.

  • Jeffrey

    Jeffrey

    March 23rd, 2016 at 11:15 AM

    So then what? You have the test, find out you will get it and then live every day dreading that the onset is today? No thanks

  • nate

    nate

    March 25th, 2016 at 7:29 AM

    For me this feels like it is going to be a step in the right direction. Once you can reliably test for it then the next step becomes beginning on work for a cure. I know that this could still be a good way off but I would think that there will eventually be enough money and research into this that there will someday be a cure to be found.

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