Alzheimer’s is a neurological disorder that causes the brain to shrink and the brain cells to die. It can impact day to day activities and a person’s ability to live a wholesome life. The progressive disease is in most cases asymptomatic, and when the symptoms start to appear, it is usually irreversible.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and is progressive in nature, beginning from mild memory loss to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment. The disease involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language.
So far there have been no definite tools to detect or treatments to cure the illness. However, a group of researchers have developed a blood test that can identify Alzheimer’s disease.
A team of neuroscientists led by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researcher developed a test to detect a novel marker of neurodegeneration in a blood sample.
The findings of the study were published on Wednesday in Brain journal.
The test is said to find the biomarker, called “brain-derived tau,” or BD-tau. It involved 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.”
“To develop better drugs, trials need to enroll people from varied backgrounds and not just those who live close to academic medical centers. 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,” the prof. adds.
Another study, published on Tuesday, conducted by Professor Oskar Hanssson, Lund University, and Professor Kaj Blennow, University of Gothenburg have looked into and evaluated blood tests and found multiple blood biomarkers that were sufficient in identifying Alzheimer’s disease pathology, even in participants with no symptoms.
“Distinctive blood tests may be optimal for the identification of Alzheimer’s pathology or for monitoring of disease progression and therefore, have different roles in clinical trials” the lead author of the research study Dr. Nicholas Ashton from the University of Gothenburg, said in a statement.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Medicine.