Researchers at Washington State University in St Louis have developed a new blood test that can detect amyloid build-up in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease, long before symptoms of cognitive impairment are apparent.
This is exciting news for early detection of the disease which at present can only be monitored with PET (Positron emission tomography) scans or spinal fluid sampling which are either expensive or invasive procedures. A simple blood test would be able to widely and easily screen older adults for Alzheimer’s, opening up the potential for early treatment options.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 5 million Americans were living with AD in 2013 and with a soaring senior population, it is expected by 2050 that number will rise to 14 million. The first symptoms of Alzheimer’s usually appear after the age of 60 but early medical management can help patients retain cognitive function longer and slow the progression of the disease while also allowing more time to plan for the future.
The Washington State study involved 41 individuals over the age of 60. By looking at three specific amyloid plaques, researchers were able to distinguish which study participants had amyloid plaques (as confirmed by PET scans and spinal fluid samples) with an 89 per cent accuracy rate.
To read more about the study visit the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association by following this link.