As we age, or as our lives get increasingly busy, we forget things, and joking about "senior moments" is common. But for people with Alzheimer's disease, the forgetfulness and confusion is real, and is distressing for the individuals and their families. While the treatments for Alzheimer's disease are largely symptomatic, beginning them early can make a significant difference, but this relies on accurate early diagnostics. A team of Texas researchers have developed a blood test that could help this process.
In research published in PLoS ONE and at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Paris, the team from the Texas Alzheimer's Research and Care Consortium (TARCC) took an existing blood test and simplified it, and then cross-checked it with clinical data from an independent group of patients.
"Basically we created a simpler version of a recent blood test," said Sid E O'Bryant, Ph.D., of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). "We created a briefer screen test in the TARCC cohort and then applied it to the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) national cohort and found we still accurately identify 88 percent of those with and without the disease."
No blood-based biomarker screening tool has received FDA approval. While this test is still at an early stage, and has not yet been approved, it is simpler than existing blood tests. The test does not require lumbar punctures or neuroimaging, so it could be much easier for physicians to use in clinics.
"There is clearly a need for reliable and valid diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease," O'Bryant said. "Identifying biomarkers in the blood has several advantages over other methods of classifying patients with Alzheimer's disease, including detecting biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid and neuroimaging. Blood can be collected at any clinic or in-home visit, whereas not all facilities can conduct lumbar punctures to obtain cerebrospinal fluid. Older patients may not consent to lumbar puncture and may not be able to undergo neuroimaging because of pacemakers or other health issues."