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New blood test can detect Alzheimer's up to 10 years before symptoms

Researchers at Rowan University and Durin Technologies say the new test is nearly 97% accurate in detecting the disease before the onset of symptoms.
Illustration depicts cells in an Alzheimer's affected brain.
Posted at 1:32 PM, Mar 09, 2023

Researchers announced the developmentof a highly accurate blood test for Alzheimer's disease (AD) that could revolutionize the way we diagnose and treat the debilitating illness.

Researchers at Rowan University and Durin Technologies say the new test is nearly 97% accurate and could detect the disease up to 10 years before symptoms emerge.

The research team, led by Dr. Robert Nagele, studied 328 blood samples and found that the test was highly accurate in detecting Alzheimer's-related pathology several years before more invasive tests can identify the disease.

"Alzheimer's disease pathology begins a decade or more before the emergence of hallmark symptoms," Nagele explained. "An accurate, non-invasive blood test for early detection and monitoring of AD could bend the curve of clinical outcomes through earlier participation in clinical trials and monitoring of AD progression of patients under treatment."

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Alzheimer's is an irreversible, degenerative brain disorder that affects roughly 6 million Americans, making it the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health.

The development of this new test is a significant step forward in Alzheimer's research and could lead to much earlier detection and better treatment options for patients. 

"Our test correctly identified nearly 97 percent of participants who were diagnosed as cognitively normal at the time their samples were taken, but who progressed, within an average of 48 months, to either the mild cognitive impairment stage or more advanced Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Cassandra DeMarshall, the study's lead investigator.

In a separate study published last December, researchers at the University of Washington also developed a blood test that can detect a "toxic" protein that is known to be associated with Alzheimer's.

The protein, called amyloid beta, is believed to play a key role in the development of the disease.

Researchers tested blood samples from 310 people. At the time the samples were taken, the subjects showed no signs of cognitive decline or Alzheimer's. 

However, they found those with higher levels of the toxic protein were more likely to develop Alzheimer's later in life.

Both studies are major steps in the development of less-invasive blood tests used for early detection of the disease.

Researchers caution that the tests need to be validated in larger studies before they can be used in clinical practice.

Currently, there are no FDA-approved blood or lab tests for Alzheimer's that can provide results before the onset of symptoms.

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