A blood test for Alzheimer’s has diagnosed the disease as accurately as other methods that are more costly or invasive, The New York Times reports.
On Tuesday, scientists reported they reached milestone toward a longtime goal of creating a test that makes an Alzheimer’s diagnosis easier, cheaper and more widely available.
The newly developed test determines whether a person with dementia has Alzheimer’s instead of another condition, the newspaper reports.
The new blood test is 96% accurate in determining whether people with dementia had Alzheimer’s rather than other neurodegenerative disorders, according to Dr. Oskar Hansson, a senior author of the study and a professor of clinical memory research at Lund University in Sweden. That performance, in a group of nearly 700 people, was similar to PET scans and spinal taps, and it was better than MRI scans and other blood tests.
The blood test also can identify signs of the degenerative disease 20 years before memory and thinking problems are expected in people with a genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer’s, according to research published in JAMA.
The research was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
Researchers hinted that the test could be available for clinical use in two to three years.
Ultimately, a similar blood test developed later on could be used to predict whether a person without symptoms of dementia would develop Alzheimer’s.
“This blood test very, very accurately predicts who’s got Alzheimer’s disease in their brain, including people who seem to be normal,” Dr. Michael Weiner, an Alzheimer’s disease researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, told the newspaper.
Weiner was not involved in the study.
“It’s not a cure, it’s not a treatment, but you can’t treat the disease without being able to diagnose it. And accurate, low-cost diagnosis is really exciting, so it’s a breakthrough,” he said.
Experts said the blood tests would help accelerate the search for new therapies because it would be faster and cheaper to screen participants for clinical trials, a process can take years and costs millions of dollars.
“Based on the data, it’s a big step forward,” Rudolph Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the research, told The New York Times.
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