Blood test offers hope for earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease

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Scientists have developed a new blood test that could detect whether or not a person will develop dementia within three years.

Changes in the blood may signify Alzheimer’s disease in its earliest stages, researchers found.

A new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, identified 10 molecules in blood that could be used to predict with at least 90 per cent accuracy whether people will go on to develop mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease.

It is the first research which has been able to show differences in biomarkers in the blood between people with Alzheimer’s disease before the symptoms occur and people who will not go on to develop the condition.

The finding has potential for developing treatment strategies for Alzheimer’s at an earlier stage – when therapy would be more effective at slowing or preventing onset of symptoms, the authors said.

Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Centre in the US examined 525 healthy participants aged 70 and over and monitored them for five years.

By measuring the presence of 10 compounds the researchers could predict with 90 per cent accuracy people that would go on to suffer from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Alzheimer’s disease begins to develop long before symptoms such as memory loss appear, but detecting the disease at this pre-symptomatic stage has so far proved difficult.

“More work is needed to confirm these findings, but a blood test to identify people at risk of Alzheimer’s would be a real step forward for research.”