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Kodadek says his research team has now screened around 300 Alzheimer’s patients and the method reliably identified disease in blood samples.
“Many of the patients had very early-stage disease,” he says. “There are also early signs that this can detect pre-symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease, but we aren’t quite there yet.”
The technique is currently too complicated to perform outside the laboratory, but the researchers are working on simplifying it to make it easy to perform in a doctor’s office.
Kodadek is now developing the technology for the Miami-based medical research company Opko Health Inc., which hopes to develop and market blood tests for a wide range of diseases.
He says his research team has now identified four peptoids that appear to be specific for pancreatic cancer and three that appear specific for non-small-cell lung cancer.
Ralph Nixon, MD, who serves on the scientific advisory council for the Alzheimer’s Association, says while the research sounds promising it is still in the very early stages.
Nixon also directs the Center of Excellence on Brain Aging at New York University Langone Medical Center.
It is now possible to determine which patients with early cognitive impairment will develop Alzheimer’s by testing spinal fluid, but Nixon calls a blood test the Holy Grail for diagnosing the disease.
Other researchers are also working to develop a blood test, but Nixon says he has seen nothing to suggest such a test will be a reality in the near future.
“We have seen glimpses that it may happen, but not the hard data to show that we are actually close,” he tells WebMD.