AAIC: Blood test could offer clues about the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, study shows – Alzheimer’s Society comment

New research reported today investigates whether simpler, more practical test for amyloid deposition could in future offer clues about the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Research was announced today at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2017 (AAIC 2017) in London from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine.

A blood-based amyloid biomarker could help to develop a less invasive way to detect the deposition of amyloid in the brain. Currently the only ways to test for this is through an invasive spinal tap or costly PET scans.

The presence of amyloid-beta in the brain is believed to increase a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and/or affect its progression.

41 older adults with and without amyloidosis in the brain participated in the study. They were either people who had a clinical diagnosis of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, or were cognitively normal age-matched controls. The participants were either given a brain PET scan, or their cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) amyloid was measured to detect brain amyloidosis. Blood samples were then taken over 24 hours.

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society said:

'This study looks at whether a blood test could be used to detect the presence of amyloid in the brain, a protein which builds up during Alzheimer's disease. Not everyone with amyloid in their brain has Alzheimer's disease, so this kind of blood test would have limited use for diagnosis in the clinic, but because the protein starts to build up years before dementia, it may allow us to identify people at risk of developing the disease.

'To run successful clinical trials for drugs that can slow, stop or prevent dementia, researchers are increasingly studying people who do not have any symptoms. People with amyloid in their brain may be at increased risk of developing Alzheimer's in the next few years and suitable for these kind of clinical trials. A test that detects amyloid in the blood could be a quick and affordable way to identify these people, and potentially be less invasive and expensive than other methods. This small study suggests a blood test for this purpose may not be that far away, but needs more validation. 

'Increasing the number of people that take part in clinical trials is vital if we are to beat dementia. To find out how to get involved in research trials visit the Join Dementia Research website.'

Think this page could be useful to someone? Share it:

Further reading