Scientists at Georgetown University in Washington DC have identified a blood test that can predict Alzheimer’s with an accuracy of 90% occuring in the next years of the participants lives.
The research, published in Nature Medicine, analysed blood samples from 525 people over the age of 70, over five years. Fifty-three of them developed Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment. Their blood was compared with fifty three who remained cognitively normal. The researchers found differences in the levels of 10 lipids between the two groups. When the research team looked in the other blood samples, those 10 markers of Alzheimer's could predict who was likely to mental decline in the following two to three years.
The research findings need to be tested and confirmed in larger trials say the scientists.
Blood based biomarkers for early signs of Alzheimer’s disease are a good way to detect the disease. They are a cheap, non-invasive and do not take long periods of time to carry out. Alzheimer’s can be present in the brain up to ten years before any symptoms are evident. With the numbers of people with dementia predicted to treble by 2050 finding a test that may help to identify an effective treatment is urgently required.
The fact that no cure exists for Alzheimer’s has led some people to question the worth of early diagnosis. Even so, the general consensus remains that the sooner the disease can be identified the sooner therapy can begin.
Plasma phospholipids identify antecedent memory impairment in older adults
Mark Mapstone, Amrita K Cheema, Massimo S Fiandaca, Xiaogang Zhong, Timothy R Mhyre, + et al.
Nature Medicine doi:10.1038/nm.3466