A new blood test might prove to bring doctors, and patients, a step closer to detecting the devastating Alzheimer's disease early on.
The experimental new test, developed at Australia's national science agency, is reportedly demonstrating substantial accuracy in detecting the key protein associated with bringing about the disease. According to the study, the blood test proved especially useful when weighed against more well established testing methods such as brain scans. The Telegraph reports:
The experimental procedure was able to accurately detect the proteins, which begin to build up in the brain a decade or more before they cause memory and thinking problems.
If the findings are supported in larger trials, the test could provide a simple way of identifying which people suffering from memory problems are most likely to develop the disease.
According to Telegraph, brain scans are used to detect the same sticky protein, "beta amyloid," but because of the high cost associated with the procedure, they are not widely implemented, especially for routine screenings.
Out of 1,000 patients involved in the study, the blood test was reportedly able to identify 83 percent whose brain scans revealed high amyloid levels. In addition, the study claims the test ruled out 85 percent of those who were not affected by the disease.
According to Telegraph, the results were presented and warmly received at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference Wednesday:
Maria Carrillo, senior director of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer's Association, said the findings "give us hope that we may be able to use a blood test in the near future”.
For those with a family member afflicted with the grave and debilitating disease, perhaps this early-detection blood test is a promising step forward, however small it may seem.