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New Blood Test Could Detect Alzheimer’s Disease Earlier

photo of technician holding blood vial

Dec. 29, 2022 -- A new blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment, researchers say.

The test would be cheaper, less invasive, and more readily available than current testing procedures for the most common form of dementia. Those are brain imaging and a painful lumbar puncture that involves removing cerebrospinal fluid from the lower back.

The new test developed by neuroscientists would detect a novel marker of Alzheimer’s brain degeneration in a blood sample. A study on their results was published today in the journal Brain.

The test to find the biomarker, called “brain-derived tau,” or BD-tau, was performed on 600 patients at various stages of the disease. Researchers said it outperformed other tests and is specific to Alzheimer’s disease and correlates well with Alzheimer’s markers in cerebrospinal fluid.

“At present, diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease requires neuroimaging,” said senior author Thomas Karikari, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh in a press release. “Those tests are expensive and take a long time to schedule, and a lot of patients, even in the U.S., don’t have access to MRI and PET scanners. Accessibility is a major issue.”

The development of a reliable blood test would be an important step forward, The Guardian reported. “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,” Karikari said.

The Guardian wrote, “The next step will be to validate the test in a broader range of patients, including those from varied racial and ethnic backgrounds, and those suffering from different stages of memory loss or other potential dementia symptoms.”

Show Sources

The Guardian: “Scientists develop blood test for Alzheimer’s disease”

Brain: “Brain-derived tau: a novel blood-based biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease-type neurodegeneration”

University of Pittsburgh: “New Biomarker Test Can Detect Alzheimer’s Neurodegeneration in Blood”

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