A non-invasive blood test to diagnose early onset Alzheimer’s disease with high accuracy has been developed by University of Melbourne researchers.
The scientists identified that changes in the brain occur two decades before patients show signs of dementia and these can be detected in expensive imaging procedures.
The new early detection blood-test can predict these changes and a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s much earlier than is currently possible.
The blood test has the potential to improve prediction for Alzheimer’s to 91% accuracy.
However, the test needs to be further tested in a larger population across three to five years.
In an initial trial group using the blood test, one in five healthy participants with no memory complaints tested positive.
On further medical investigation using brain-imaging techniques, these patients showed signs of degeneration in the brain resembling Alzheimer’s features.
Professor Andrew Hill from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology says the blood test will significantly advance efforts to find new treatments for the degenerative disease and could lead to better preventative measures.
The high accuracy of the blood test comes from the ability to harvest protected bubbles of genetic material, called microRNA, found circulating in the bloodstream.
Those with Alzheimer’s contain a certain set of microRNA which distinguishes them from healthy people.
The research, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, was done in collaboration with The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the CSIRO and Austin Health and Australian Imaging Biomarker and Lifestyle (AIBL) study of Ageing.
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