Could Predicting Alzheimer's Disease Be As Simple As Taking A Blood Test?

While there is currently no cure for dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease, early detection is beneficial because many medications used to treat it provide better results when used in the early stages of the disease (per Verywell Health). Unfortunately, testing for dementia has been complicated because there isn't a standard test doctors can use. Instead, they rely on a variety of screenings that include spinal taps, brain imaging, memory tests, neurological exams, and other tools to help them determine a diagnosis (via Alzheimer's Association).

While brain scans and neurological tests can be accurate in predicting Alzheimer's Disease, they are expensive. Medical Xpress reports that radioactive brain scans can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000, and spinal taps, which can be invasive, cost around $1,000. But relying on those kinds of tests may soon be a thing of the past. New research gives hope to an easier form of testing that involves a blood test.

The test looks for certain proteins in the blood

Simply put, Alzheimer's Disease results from the accumulation of too many proteins, called beta-amyloids, in the brain. These proteins cluster together, forming a plaque that disrupts how the cells work, eventually destroying them. With this knowledge, doctors and researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine worked to develop a specialized test that examines the amount of beta-amyloids in the body. According to Medical Xpress, the test was 88% accurate in predicting the occurrence of Alzheimer's Disease in individuals who were cognitively impaired and those who weren't. When researchers also included genetic factors for Alzheimer's Disease, the test proved to be even more accurate. 

The study, published in the journal Neurology, followed 465 participants. While the number of individuals studied is small, the results show that the test, which costs about $500, can be used easily in clinics across the world at a fraction of the cost of other tests (via Medical Xpress).