A blood test that screens for the presence and buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain decades before the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms could be a promising and widely accessible way to detect Alzheimer’s disease early. Studies have indicated that the pathology of Alzheimer’s occurs over a twenty to thirty-year time span, with symptoms typically arising in the last seven to ten years of this period (Remaly, 2017). By employing a more practical and less expensive early screening method compared to other ones such as CSF testing and PET scans, medical researchers hope that this Alzheimer’s blood test can be more widely available for patients. Moreover, if safe and effective antiamyloid therapies are introduced, researchers believe that Alzheimer’s risk detection, diagnosis and treatment could be possible many years before the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms.
To ascertain the validity of beta-amyloid concentrations in the blood test, researchers conducted a double-blind validation study using 164 blood samples to distinguish between participants who were amyloid positive and amyloid negative. A highly statistically significant difference was identified between participants who were amyloid positive and amyloid negative, with an AUC in the validation cohort of approximately 0.76 (Remaly, 2017). Researchers noted that validation will be needed in studies that are larger to establish the reliability of results from this blood test.
With additional testing and validation in larger studies, this blood test could be an effective way to help identify and mitigate the risks of Alzheimer’s later in life, thereby potentially preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
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Remaly, J. (2017). Blood Test May Detect Amyloid Plaques in the Brain. Neurology Reviews, 25(11), 40-41. Retrieved from https://www.mdedge.com/neurologyreviews/article/150496/alzheimers-cognition/blood-test-may-detect-amyloid-plaques-brain.