Blood tests predicting Alzheimer's disease?

Published: Jun 10, 2014

Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center claim to have developed a blood test capable of predicting whether a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease. They found that some biomarkers in the blood could be used to predict whether a person would develop Alzheimer’s disease within three years - with 90% accuracy.

The researchers examined 525 healthy participants aged 70 and over and monitored them over a period of 5 years, regularly analyzing their blood samples. Based on the sample size, 28 of these participants went on to develop Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) that usually precedes AD. They compared the blood samples of those 28 people with the samples from their more cognitively stable peers, as well as with 54 individuals in the community with diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease or MCI. The researchers found that individuals who developed dementia had lower levels of 10 particular lipids than the healthier seniors in the group. The blood test predicted who would develop Alzheimer’s disease or MCI with 90% accuracy.

Currently, we do not have any screening tests for Alzheimer's disease, and by the time a person receives a diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's disease, it is often later in the process. Considering the fact that we do not yet have a cure for Alzheimer's disease at present, and the medications currently available to treat it ( Aricept, Exelon, Reminyl etc.,) tend to be more effective in the early stages of the disease, the necessity (and potential) for a screening test is vast and significant.
In this scenario, the findings are very encouraging, but these results are still in the preliminary stages. For this test to be approved as a screening test, it must be validated by other labs and with larger groups of people. If it is proven to be effective, it would take time to make it to the doctor’s offices.

If the test gets approved, it would potentially help detect Alzheimer's disease before a person experienced symptoms. This would widen the window of opportunity for treatment of Alzheimer's disease, and the medications may have greater efficacy during the early stages. Moreover, it would give people more time to do some of the things on their bucket list and plan for their future.

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