Blood test detects proteins linked to Alzheimer's disease

Henrietta Strickland
February 1, 2018

The new test will not only make diagnosis cheaper, earlier and more available, it will also fast track research discoveries into the disease. A new breakthrough blood test, developed by an global team of scientists, can reportedly measure the concentration of these amyloid beta concentrations using just a tiny blood sample.

Since Alzheimer's disease is thought to start developing years before patients have any symptoms of memory loss, experts say an important factor in finding an effective treatment will be the ability to accurately detect signs of the disease early. "And that's where the real value in this test will come", Masters said.

Despite decades of scientific research, there is no treatment that can slow the progression of Alzheimer's. The current methods for detecting amyloids-positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of the brain and measurement of the clumping protein amyloid-β in cerebrospinal fluid-are expensive and invasive. It is also updated the three drugs which are available in the market found untreatable. "New drugs are urgently required, and the only way to do that is to speed up the whole process".

It's too early to say for sure, but a new blood test demonstrating a 90% accuracy rate could help scientists identify toxic proteins in the brain.

The research team analyzed plasma samples from two independent data sets that contained samples from people who were cognitively normal, people who had mild cognitive impairment, and people who had Alzheimer's-related dementia.

Dr Koichi Tanaka from Japanese medical technology company Shimadzu Corporation was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2002 for developing the blood testing procedure. "Not everyone with amyloid in their brains will turn out to have dementia, and not everyone who has dementia will be found to have amyloid in their brains".

In 2018, dementia is estimated to cost Australia more than $15 billion.

"If (it) can be repeated in a larger number of people, this test will give us an insight into changes occurring in the brain that relate to Alzheimer's disease", said Mark Dallas, a lecturer in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience at Britain's University of Reading.

In Australia, the study was conducted by a partnership of the Florey Institute, The University of Melbourne, CSIRO, Edith Cowan University and Austin Health.

The research appears in the journal Nature.

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