According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 6 million Americans are living with the disease. The condition is debilitating and wreaks havoc on an individual's life particularly when it reaches the dementia stage.
A new blood test may be able to identify people at risk of developing the disease early on allowing them to get the necessary help, according to a press release published on Wednesday by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
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93 percent accuracy
“Our study shows that the blood test provides a robust measure for detecting amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease, even among patients not yet experiencing cognitive declines,” said in the statement senior author Randall J. Bateman, MD, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Distinguished Professor of Neurology.
“A blood test for Alzheimer’s provides a huge boost for Alzheimer’s research and diagnosis, drastically cutting the time and cost of identifying patients for clinical trials and spurring the development of new treatment options,” Bateman added. “As new drugs become available, a blood test could determine who might benefit from treatment, including those at very early stages of the disease.”
In a study involving nearly 500 patients from the United States, Australia, and Sweden, the new blood test proved 93 percent accuracy. Now, it could revolutionize the way we conduct tests for identifying the presence and progression of the disease.
Currently, researchers use PET brain scans to identify the disease. These come with an average cost of $5,000 to $8,000 per scan. Another option is the spinal tap test which costs only about $1,000 but involves a procedure that most patients do not want to endure.
The new blood test would only cost $500 and could be completed in less than six months. Better yet, current research indicates that the test remains highly accurate regardless of the labs it is performed in or the protocols which are followed.
“These results suggest the test can be useful in identifying nonimpaired patients who may be at risk for future dementia, offering them the opportunity to get enrolled in clinical trials when early intervention has the potential to do the most good,” Bateman concluded.