A blood test prototype shows exciting promise to detect Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, the blood test detects proteins that accumulate in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, causing neurons to die. The study results were presented this week at the Alzheimer’s Association Conference 2019.
These results suggest that researchers may be one step closer to a potential breakthrough for treating this devastating and widespread disease. In fact, a blood test that will recognize the bio-markers for Alzheimer’s could eventually lead to a cure. Currently, there is no cure for this disease.
Blood Test: Path To The Cure
Researchers at the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Japan developed a prototype blood test that accurately identified the accumulation of amyloid precursor protein (APP) with 93 percent accuracy. Over 200 patients with mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, or non-Alzheimer’s dementia were tested. It also identified the protein in some subjects who were cognitively normal. The researchers believe that this may indicate a pre=Alzheimer’s condition in these patients.
Indeed, the new blood test may also be more efficient at picking up pre-clinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the study. This would bring earlier intervention. Currently, changes in amyloid protein can exist and spread in the brain for as long as two decades before the person is clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. By that time, it’s too late to reverse the disease.
In addition, this test was as accurate in identifying amyloid proteins as the current gold standard of positron-emission tomography (PET) scans. Moreover, this test is less invasive and cheaper.
The researchers are now doing further testing in larger sample sizes — confirmation of the first results will help in the following way:
Patients, during their annual checkup, would get a quick blood test to see if they have elevated bio-markers for Alzheimer’s. For those that test positive, will then be referred to a specialist to immediately begin treatment.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The scientific community is excited but cautious. Previous treatment breakthroughs became duds as they advanced to FDA mandated Stage 3 trials. Both Stage 3 and Stage 4 clinical trials are extremely rigorous. Passing these stages assures FDA approval.
Ultimately, the goal is to have an effective test that will flag Alzheimer’s before and after the onset of symptoms. It’s necessary to have effective bio-markers at all stages of disease — before and after onset of symptoms.
Identification of the disease will lead to new avenues for developing a cure.