It's always exciting when there is promising news about an incurable, deadly disease. But it's essential not to let hopes get in front of the facts. Let's look very carefully at the recent report appearing the journal Nature Medicine that suggests it may be possible to detect Alzheimer's disease via a blood test.
Bottom line first
An intriguing preliminary study suggests a collection of proteins in the blood may be a useful indicator of the presence of Alzheimer's disease. It might also identify patients with mild cognitive impairment who could go on to develop Alzheimer's.
This study in 50 words or less
Researchers studied 259 blood samples taken from people with and without Alzheimer's and with mild impairment. They identified 18 proteins that, when present in certain concentrations, predicted clincial diagnosis of the disease with 90 percent accuracy--and predicted who among the slightly impaired later developed the disease.
Yes, but. . .
The study was funded partly by Satoris, a company that is developing the test to commercialize it. One of the authors did early work on the project as an employee of the company and is its co-founder; two other co-authors are consultants to the company.
Under the very best circumstances, the test will need to be confirmed accurate with a much larger group of people over a longer period of time. According the company, if it is confirmed, its first use would be in the laboratory, perhaps as early as next year. But commercial use for diagnostic purposes is many years away, would require FDA approval, and not guaranteed.
So what are you going to do about it?
At this point, nothing.
To learn more about the condition, check in with any of our experts, who include patients, caregivers, authors, physicians and advocates.
Published On: October 15, 2007