A new blood test has revealed Alzheimer’s disease as accurately as an expensive scan of the brain or spinal cord, increasing the possibility of a new, inexpensive way to diagnose the most common form of dementia.
Researchers at an international conference of the Alzheimer’s Association on Tuesday presented the results of several studies on whether a blood test can distinguish Alzheimer’s disease from other forms of dementia.
In one study published in JAMA, researchers said a blood test could identify Alzheimer’s disease and even detect the symptoms of the disease 20 years before expecting cognitive problems in a group of people who have a rare genetic mutation.
A blood test for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease could be more accurate than the memory and thinking tests currently used to diagnose the disease. Invasive and expensive brain and spinal cord images are used to measure spinal fluid, but insurance does not always cover these tests.
The researchers reported that a blood test measuring tau protein accurately distinguished Alzheimer’s disease from other forms of dementia in 89% to 98% of cases.
“It’s a promising blood test that seems to be very accurate and seems to detect it (Alzheimer’s disease) relatively soon,” said Dr. Eric Reiman, a researcher in one of the studies and executive director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix.
However, experts have warned that blood test validation can be reliable for both physicians and researchers. Would patients want to know that they are designed to develop memory and thinking problems if there are no reliable drugs to slow down the deadly disease?
Randall J. Bateman, a professor of neurology at the University of Washington and a researcher for Alzheimer’s disease, said blood tests could be useful for both patients and doctors, as well as for scientists studying new drugs to slow the disease of mind theft.
Physicians can use this test to accurately diagnose early Alzheimer’s disease and initiate treatment with existing medicines approved for the administration of foods and medications that alleviate symptoms, if not mental decline.
But perhaps a greater return would come from accelerating research into new drugs that seek to slow or stop the disease, which affects 5.8 million older Americans. Drug companies have been developing amyloid protein therapies for decades on a theory responsible for memory and thinking impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Some recent studies have tried to administer drugs that target these proteins before memory and thinking problems appear.
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Bateman said blood tests that detect Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms appear “become transformative” for studies that seek to stop or slow the disease.
“If we can prevent these symptoms from appearing, that’s why we are so excited about such biomarkers,” he said. “And we think that in the right combination, these blood biomarkers will also talk about when someone gets sick. This will be very useful in the clinic if we classify these patients. “
Oskar Hansson from Lund University in Sweden conducted a study of the Eli Lilly test, which measured tau protein in more than 1,400 people who have already participated in dementia studies in Sweden, Arizona and Colombia. They included people without injury, mild damage, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological diseases.
The p-tau217 test overcame a number of other measures to determine which patients had Alzheimer’s disease, as verified by brain scans. It was also comparable to brain scans and the accuracy of some spine tests.
The study in Arizona involved 81 people who donated their brains after death, so the researchers proved that blood tests, while they were alive, closely matched the evidence of the disease later.
The study in Colombia involved people with a rare genetic mutation that ensures that they develop Alzheimer’s disease at a young age, usually at the age of 40. In those who have the gene, blood levels of p-tau217 began to rise “about 20 years before symptoms,” Hansson said.
Associated printing has contributed
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