An exciting new blood test can detect Alzheimer’s disease at an early age, according to scientists.
The blood test looks for the mild cognitive impairment (MCI) stage of Alzheimer’s by using the body’s immune system. Cassandra DeMarshall, a PhD candidate at the Rowan University where the study was conducted, explained that the cause of MCI in 60% of patients is Alzheimer’s disease, while 40% of patients’ MCI was caused by other contributing factors. These factors include depression, drug-related side effects, and vascular problems.
The research team involved with the study looked at blood samples from 236 participants. Of those 236, there were 50 MCI patients with low levels of amyloid-beta 42 peptide found in their cerebrospinal fluid, which is a dependable indicator of Alzheimer’s in the brain. Usually, if these low levels of amyloid-beta 42 peptides are found, it can be assumed that a patient will rapidly progress to having Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers were able to determine the top 50 autoantibody biomarkers that can determine early-stage Alzheimer’s in MCI patients. The biomarkers had a 100% accuracy rate throughout multiple tests – meaning they were able to determine patients with Alzheimer’s-related MCI from age and gender control groups.
The research team was led by Robert Nagele, and the study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment and Disease Monitoring. The test was able to identify participants whose MCI was caused by an early onset of Alzheimer’s disease, instead of through other factors. According to Nagele, if a patient has Alzheimer’s, changes began in his or her brain around 10 years prior to symptoms arising.
Due to the findings, researchers are confident that a small number of blood-borne autoantibodies can diagnose early-stage Alzheimer’s, which could mean that there may be a simple and non-invasive way to diagnose this disease – at an early point. The first of its kind that uses an autoantibody biomarker, the accuracy of the test has encouraged scientists.
If Alzheimer’s is treated early on, before too much brain loss has occurred, treatments are more likely to be beneficial. Besides being able to accurately determine early Alzheimer’s from more advanced stages, the test could also identify other diseases like multiple sclerosis, early stage breast cancer, and Parkinson’s. Further testing proved that MCI biomarkers were capable of determining these differences.
As our population’s age increases, the study proves to be reassuring for many Americans who wish to treat Alzheimer’s in its early stages.