Alzheimer's Blood Test 90 Percent Accurate 3 Years Before Symptoms

Tuesday, 11 Mar 2014 09:20 AM

By Michael Mullins

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An Alzheimer's blood test has been developed by scientists that can predict with 90 percent accuracy whether an elderly person will suffer from dementia three years before they begin to exhibit symptoms.

The groundbreaking research was led by Dr. Howard Federoff, a neurologist at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, and was published in the biomedical research journal Nature Medicine on Sunday.

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The test, which specifically predicts an individual's memory loss and decline in thinking ability, relies on levels of 10 lipids, or fats, in the bloodstream to estimate the chances of either mild cognitive impairment, HealthyDay.com reported.

"This is a potential game-changer. My level of enthusiasm is very high," Federoff told CNN.

"The lipid panel was able to distinguish with 90 per cent accuracy these two distinct groups: cognitively normal participants who would progress to mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease within two to three years, and those who would remain normal in the near future," Federoff said.

Federoff, however, could not say why there was a connection between memory loss and fat in the bloodstream.

"We do not know why all 10 of those lipids are lower in individuals who are predisposed to go on to cognitive impairment," Federoff added. "We can't directly link this to our current understanding of the pathobiology of Alzheimer's disease."

Presently the only methods for predicting Alzheimer's are PET scans and spinal taps, both of which are expensive, unreliable and can prove risky, according to CNN.

The study involved 525 healthy individuals over 70 years of age, all of whom were administered an extensive battery of neurocognitive tests and full blood exam, according to HealthyDay.com. The researchers then observed the health of the participants over the next five years, and found that 74 had gone on to develop some form of dementia or mild Alzheimer's disease.

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"The results, while intriguing, are preliminary," Maria Carrillo, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer's Association said in regards to the study. "They require replication and validation by other scientists in larger and more diverse populations to give them credibility, before further development for clinical use is warranted."

Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia currently affects more than 35 million people worldwide and with no cure in sight, that number is expected to triple to 115 million by 2050, according to a new report by Alzheimer’s Disease International.

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