New blood test to detect early signs of Alzheimer's
A team of Australian and Japanese scientists has developed a blood test to detect a toxic protein, amyloid beta, which is connected to Alzheimer’s disease. First tests were able to identify the protein with 90% accuracy. Amyloid beta builds up in the brain during the disease; by measuring the proportions of amyloid fragment in the blood, the researchers were able to predict the levels of the protein in the brain. Although they state to be still far from a practical clinical application of their test, their findings, which were published in Nature, could be a very important step in detecting the disease in its earliest possible stages. Additionally, the test would be cheaper than brain scanning, "potentially enabling broader clinical access and efficient population screening", according to the study.
Raymond Schiffelers, B-SMART coordinator, sees the importance of this new study not only for Alzheimer’s research in general, but also potentially for the B-SMART project: “It could be a surrogate marker for the efficiency of the therapeutics we are developing.” Since there is no treatment available for Alzheimer’s disease yet, early detection might be a first step to speed up access to therapy.