11 March 2013
Is a blood test for Alzheimer’s the way forward?
British researchers have devised a test to detect Alzheimer’s in its early stages. The test looks for a combination of markers in the blood which differ between those with the disease and those without.
The new break through could mean the start of earlier diagnosis and therefore, better treatments. The test looks at proteins strongly linked with the condition, such as amyloid and APOE. Through the analysis of blood from people living with the disease other markers were discovered that were indicative of Alzheimer’s.
Professor Kevin Morgan of the University of Nottingham said the test still needed to be verified and it could be decades before it is used as common place but that the results were very promising for the future of treating the condition.
He said, “Our findings are exciting because they show that it is technically possible to distinguish between healthy people and those with Alzheimer’s using a blood test. As blood tests are a fast and easy way of aiding diagnosis, we are really encouraged by these findings and the potential they hold for the future.”
Potentially, the blood test could be a cheap and easy pre-screen for the condition with diagnosis before symptoms appear.
Professor Morgan added, “The way we see it working is you can test people and it will tell them if they have the all-clear, or if they are medium- or high-risk. If they are, medium-risk, they can be monitored closely and high-risk patients can bereferred to a specialist for more in-depth testing.”
Dr Eric Karran, director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said, “Giving people with dementia an accurate diagnosis is not always easy, and so building up our armoury of diagnostic techniques is vital. While there is still some way to go before a test like this could become available, the results are promising. When used alongside other diagnostic techniques, a blood test like this could be a real help.”