A Blood Test That Could Detect Alzheimer's Before Symptoms Develop

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A blood test can accurately detect brain damage in people with Alzheimer's before they show memory loss, confusion, or cognitive impairment, say researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Tübingen. Results of their study, published in Nature Medicine, also suggest that the blood test could one day be used to detect other neurological conditions, including multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

When neurons in the brain are damaged by injury or disease, proteins that form these cells leak into the spinal fluid and then into the bloodstream. Testing cerebrospinal fluid for high levels of these proteins provides strong evidence of brain cell damage, but requires a highly invasive procedure called a spinal tap. So, an international team of researchers conducted a study to determine whether blood levels of the proteins also indicate neurological damage.

They found high blood levels of the proteins in study participants who later developed Alzheimer’s disease, as well as those who were diagnosed with Lewy body dementia and Huntington's disease, MS patients experiencing a flare, and football players who had just sustained a head injury. Although this blood test for protein levels is available, it’s not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to diagnose or predict brain damage.

Sourced from: Nature Medicine