One of the biggest challenges of Alzheimer’s disease is detecting it early enough to intervene with effective treatments. While the exact cause of Alzheimer’s is still under dispute, and the search for a cure, conventional or not, is ongoing, in the meantime, early diagnosis and intervention will be key to a better quality of life for those living with the disease. And a new blood test might offer a more effective way to find and start treatment.
Researchers know an early symptom of Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. The problem is that it can have a variety of symptoms, and not everyone with MCI goes on to develop Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, Alzheimer’s researchers have identified a set of biomarkers easily tracked in a blood test to determine whether it’s just a natural problem of aging or if the issue is going to get more serious, but nobody was sure just how accurate tracking these biomarkers would be.
So scientists at Rowan University threw a battery of tests at it, running the blood of patients with diseases ranging from breast cancer to Parkinson’s through it as well as early-stage Alzheimer’s and those diagnosed with MCI. The Rowan University team were able to diagnose patients with 100 percent accuracy in most cases, with only sorting early-stage from late-stage Alzheimer’s with 98.7 percent precision. Of course, this is a relatively small study, and will need to be done with larger test groups before patients can go to the doctor and get a blood test. But until there’s a cure, this will ensure Alzheimers’ patients get more out of life and get better treatment early, and that’s no small thing.