A Simple Blood Test Could Predict the Onset of Alzheimer's

Scientists have developed a new blood test that can predict who will develop Alzheimer's disease a year after having mild memory problems—and it could be in clinical use within two years.

Researchers from King's College London have developed a test which identifies 10 proteins in blood that can predict who will develop Alzheimer's. It's around 90 percent accurate, and is set to enter large-scale clinical trials soon. The research is published in Alzheimer's & Dementia.

There have been other blood tests for Alzheimer's in the past, but despite their promise, they were difficult to translate into medical practice because they identified lipids. This new test, however, relies on the presence of proteins in the blood—making for much easier, lower cost testing.

The team of scientists analyzed 26 proteins known to be associated with cognitive decline in blood from 1,148 people, including 476 people with Alzheimer's. They found that 10 of these proteins could predict if individuals with "mild cognitive impairment" would go on to develop Alzheimer's within a year with an accuracy of 90 percent.

While there's currently no cure for Alzheimer's, early diagnosis could enable patients to take drugs which can slow the progression of the disease; late diagnosis reduces the effectiveness of such drugs. The next step for the research is a large clinical study—but the researchers believe it could become a clinical staple within two years. [Alzheimer's & Dementia via New Scientist]

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