The new blood test may render the current, painful diagnostic tests obsolete.
Scientists have developed a more accurate and less painful blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and a global group of specialists have created a blood test that might eliminate the need for invasive CSF testing.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and brain cells to die. Also, it is the most common cause of dementia. It causes a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills which affects a person’s ability to function independently.
The expiremental blood test outdid current diagnostic methods. Such a blood test could lead to quicker detection of the disease. Typically, diagnosing Alzheimer’s is difficult. However, the team’s new blood test could make painful CSF testing unnecessary.
The most common type of Alzheimer’s is late-onset, beginning in one’s mid-60s or later. Early-onset Alzheimer’s is less common, with the earliest manifestation possible starting in one’s 30s.
Current methods include brain scanning and lumbar puncture. The latter is especially painful because the Cerebro-Spinal Fluid (CSF) needs to be extracted from the spinal cord.
The new blood test:
The antibody-based blood test is used to detect a certain protein called brain-derived tau because it’s associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Prof Thomas Karikari from University of Pittsburgh: “A blood test is cheaper, safer and easier to administer.”
And it can improve clinical confidence in diagnosing Alzheimer’s and selecting participants for clinical trial and disease monitoring.
In the study involving 600 patients of various levels of Alzheimer’s, the protein levels found by means of the blood test were found to be in line with those identified after CSF analysis.
These results are encouraging, and suggest that in the near future doctors may be able to confidently diagnose Alzheimer’s without requiring painful procedure like lumbar puncture.
With further research and refinement, this new blood test could revolutionize the way we diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease.