93% accuracy in new Alzheimer’s test, according to international study

pharmafile | February 23, 2022 | News story | Research and Development  

The Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis has developed a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease which has proved highly accurate in detecting early signs of the disease in a trial involving nearly 500 patients.

The study took place across three continents, and adds to the growing body of evidence that a blood test should be considered for routine screening and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. The test assesses whether amyloid plaques have begun accumulating in the brain, based on the ratio of the levels of the amyloid beta proteins Aβ42 and Aβ40 in the blood.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurologic disorder, causing the brain to shrink – atrophy – and braincells to die. It is the most common cause of dementia, the name for a group of symptoms associated with continuous decline in thinking, behavioural, memory, and social skills. This decline affects a person’s ability to function independently. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, low moods, difficulty with planning and decision-making, personality changes including becoming aggressive or suspicious, and problems with speech and language.

While the exact cause of Alzheimer’s is still not fully understood, a number of factors are believed to increase a person’s risk of developing the condition, including increasing age, family history of the condition, untreated depression, and lifestyle factors associated with cardiovascular disease.

“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 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 said. “As new drugs become available, a blood test could determine who might benefit from treatment, including those at very early stages of the disease.”

There is great clinical need for a low-cost, easily accessible blood test for Alzheimer’s as an alternative to the expensive brain scans and invasive spinal taps which are currently used to assess the presence and progression of Alzheimer’s in the brain.

Ana Ovey

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