April 14th, 2014
Each year, approximately 500,000 people die due to alzheimer’s disease. Over five million Americans are currently living with the disease. Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. The statistics are startling and unsettling; “Men’s Health“. However, recent research provides an encouraging step and also some new Alzheimer’s test in the fight against this deadly disease.
Researchers from Georgetown University have developed a blood test that can determine, with more than 90 percent accuracy, if you will develop Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment within the next 3 years. It’s a simple, non-invasive way to detect the condition before symptoms occur.
During the early stages of this cognitive disorder, the synapses and neurons in your brain begin to degrade and malfunction, explains study co-author Howard Federoff, MD, Ph.D. This is what causes the memory and thinking problems associated with Alzheimer’s.
However it turns out that it is possible this breakdown also leaves a trace in your blood. The new Alzheimer’s test looks for particular lipids in your blood that potentially come from these neural cell membranes crashing.
The purpose of the Alzheimer’s test is to alert unknowing people to their high level risk for Alzheimer’s. While there no current cure or effective treatment to the deadly disease, with the test, possible Alzheimer’s patients could look into clinical trials sooner and testing therapies that potentially could halt or slow the disease progression, Dr. Federoff says. Dr. Federoff team is unsure if and when this type of Alzheimer’s test will become available to the public.
“We are certainly getting closer to having a blood test for Alzheimer’s test, which I thought was impossible five years ago, said Dr. Robert Stern, director of clinical research of the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center. “But I predict this type of Alzheimer’s test will take another 5 or 10 years for one to become available.”
Likely, he said, the lipid measurement will be just one marker assessed in a blood test to measure various markers for the disease similar to the way doctors measure various components of cholesterol and an inflammatory marker to screen for heart disease.
It could, for Alzheimer’s test, be combined with another blood test developed by Australian researchers last year that also appears to predict Alzheimer’s by measuring different biomarkers.
The new experimental blood test ,for Alzheimer’s test, is promising and likely one step of many needed before a blood test will be available for clinical use.
“We’re in a Catch-22 at the moment,” Stern said. “In order for us to develop really good modifying treatments for Alzheimer’s, we need to identify people very early on in the course of the disease. But we still don’t have a cheap and easy way to do that.”