Doctors Claim New Blood Test Can Identify Alzheimer’s Three Years Before Onset
A simple non-invasive test for Alzheimer’s may be on the horizon as a group of researchers claim they have discovered a blood test that can predict someone’s chance of developing Alzheimer’s within three years to a 90 percent accuracy.
Dr. Howard J. Federoff, professor of neurology and executive vice president for health sciences at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, explained the test can identify ten lipids in the blood that are predictive of disease onset. According to Federoff, the test could be ready for use in clinical studies in as soon as two years.
“Our novel blood test offers the potential to identify people at risk for progressive cognitive decline and can change how patients, their families and treating physicians plan for and manage the disorder,” Federoff said in a statement.
The test could be especially helpful as more and more research suggests patients benefit the most from treatments at the very first signs of memory loss, or even before symptoms appear. Federoff himself believes many already tested efforts to treat or slow Alzheimer’s disease may potentially help treat the disease, but they may have been tested too late in the disease process.
However, Deborah Kotz urges caution before rejoicing at Federoff’s announcement. She admits the findings could have a huge impact on the number of Americans dying every year from Alzheimer’s, but it will be years before the public will see any benefits from the test. The test will also likely have to go through several refinements and improvements by then.
Dr. Robert Stern, director of clinical research of the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center, told Kotz, “We are certainly getting closer to having a blood test for Alzheimer’s, which I thought was impossible five years ago. But, I predict it will take another five or ten years for one to become available.”
Most likely, Stern believe’s Federoff’s lipid measurement will become just one marker on a wider array of markers used in blood tests to identify the disease. For example, it could be combined with another blood test developed by Austrailian researchers last year which also appeared to predict Alzheimer’s using different biomarkers.
Only time and testing will show us exactly how reliable these tests are, but it seems new findings are being made every day towards improving our understanding and finding new ways to manage Alzheimer’s disease. We don’t have the answers in our grip yet, but the future looks bright.