Blood test for Alzheimer’s is here

It looks like a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease is finally here.

Blood test for Alzheimer’s is here

It’s been a long time coming, but it looks like a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease is finally here. When testing those with mild memory loss (a possible warning sign of Alzheimer’s), the blood test can predict with 87 per cent accuracy whether or not that person will develop Alzheimer’s disease within 12 months.

The test is the result of 10 years’ work by the joint efforts of scientists from King’s College in London and UK company Proteome Sciences. They were able to identify 10 proteins in the blood which could predict the onset of Alzheimer’s with a reasonable level of accuracy.

Currently there is no way to test for Alzheimer’s. This is problematic, as possible cures can only be tested on those suffering from the later stages of the disease. This means that cures and treatments are being tested on already damaged brains. One of the main reasons this blood test is so exciting is that it could allow scientists to test preventative treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, long before it causes major damage to the brain. This could be the answer to finally developing a prevention, treatment or cure for this debilitating disease.

As Professor Simon Lovestone from King’s College commented, “Alzheimer’s begins to affect the brain many years before patients are diagnosed with the disease. Many of our drug trials fail because by the time patients are given the drugs, the brain has already been too severely affected.”

The blood test is expected to be available within the next two years, and could cost around $180–$550. Before it goes on the market, however, researchers say it is important they attempt to improve the accuracy of the test, in order to reduce the risk of misdiagnosis, as currently 10 per cent of those tested will receive a false positive.

Another concern being raised is the ethical issue of telling someone that they have a disease which is currently both untreatable and incurable.

You can find out more at www.TheGuardian.com

What do you think? Would you consider being tested if the accuracy improved? Or do you think that knowing you have an incurable disease is not worth the extra preparation time which a test might offer?





    COMMENTS

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    Polly Esther
    24th Jul 2014
    11:25am
    Not much point worrying yourself to death over any probability. If it were the case one would never venture from ones home, why? because there are buses out there one has to dodge. Anyhow if you get it, would you know you've got it? live the moment. It's only my theory though.
    Happy cyclist
    24th Jul 2014
    11:29am
    Rather than take a blood test to find out if you should be trying to avoid Alzheimers, wouldn't it make a lot more sense if everyone just did those things which are thought to help prevent it? For example drastically cut out sugar from your diet (the weight will just drop off I promise), read and think, do puzzles, walk, walk, walk. I think it would be awful to hear you will get Alzheimers when a bus might get you first anyway -- or a car or dog if you are a cyclist -- why not just take the sensible steps to prolong a healthy brain and not risk the horror of finding out what may or may not happen in 20 years?
    Blossom
    25th Jul 2014
    10:51am
    I agree with you. Good Occupational Therapists can often determine which activities work better for individuals. That doesn't mean that you don't try others, but it is a starting block to build on.
    Anonymous
    25th Jul 2014
    3:44pm
    Two months ago started walking. 30 mins a day now up to 45 a day on my treadmill. I loathe exercise but now feel that as I have been doing it every day I should keep it up as long as possible.
    Also gave up the wine and weight starting to drop off. Also not having butter/margarine at all. The sugar part is the hard bit but trying to cut back as muh as I can.

    I don't think I will take the test.
    Old Fella
    24th Jul 2014
    12:07pm
    I definitely would consider taking the test despite the current shadow that the disease is untreatable and incurable. I want very much to live every moment with my family , alive and alert and in communication. Sadly I see unacceptable lost time and lost capacity if suffering Alzheimer's , and if such test can provide forewarning I would welcome maximising whatever available disease free time I might expect.
    Happy cyclist
    24th Jul 2014
    12:48pm
    Why not just maximise your time now anyway? Why wait for disaster to start maximising?
    biddi
    24th Jul 2014
    12:31pm
    Wouldn't there be some early warning signs before full-blown
    A. sets in? Then I would get a move on to get my house on order.
    Blood Red Dragon
    24th Jul 2014
    4:13pm
    .....always better to know than not....can still "live in the moment"...to choose not to know seems antithetical to our accumulation of knowledge as a species.
    Jennie
    24th Jul 2014
    5:09pm
    I totally agree with knowing. If you have any form of dementia setting in, it can be too late before you are with it enough to self euthanase. And yes you can enjoy every moment in comfort with that knowledge. Knowledge gives you strength, allowing you to carry out a choice (or not...)
    btony
    25th Jul 2014
    7:26am
    Jennie, at what point would you self euthanase if you were told you might develop The Big A?. When you forgot to bring in the mail, forgot to boil the jug for a cuppa, for got to set the alarm? Everyone gets some form of dementia even if its not measurable. Gee I just cut my finger,heck I might bleed out ,I"d better knock myself off.One of the silliest posts I have read here
    Jennie
    25th Jul 2014
    1:08pm
    Don't exaggerate. We are talkig about a serious terminal and distressing illness here, not a minor injury that will heal. Dealing with dementia is a nightmare. Both my parents suffered, yes suffered from it. And yes it is very hard to decide when to go. Being informed, talking about dementia, getting over the Western society taboo of speaking about death and thinking deeply about your choices, I repeat choices, is sensible and essential. It is not of course always possible to avoid the suffering that dementia brings to yourself and your family, but at least consider your options and and take the best option you can. I repeat, what you do (or not) is a choice that you hope you can make. btony, you don't have to have any concerns about dementia if you choose not to.
    btony
    25th Jul 2014
    2:56pm
    What I am trying to get across here is that the test tells you is you MIGHT get dementia, I surely wouldn't commit suicide because something might happen and that is what euthanasia is, whatever you call it.
    Both my parents suffered from cancer, which in the end was breaking bones, it was quite aggressive in my mothers case, my fathers bone cancer was so bad he couldn't be touched without some sort of pain, neither of them wanted a magic bullet.
    My 37 yr old daughter has stage4 breast cancer from which she will not recover , my sister in law has stage 4 breast cancer from which she probably wont see her next birthday . Neither of them want the magic bullet either.
    I myself have been hiv+ve for over 18 yrs and the Dr told me back then I wouldn't see 10 years, well guess what,I'm still here and going strong.
    I could have 'self euthanased' and never seen 7 of my eight grandkids, seen my kids get married and make their way in life,or made the great lot of friends I but I chose to hang around and I'm glad I did. Turn off life support when and if the time comes but I wont be departing on a 'maybe', that's for sure.
    So Jennie , I ask again, when would be the right time to self euthanase? You'd have to do it yourself or it wouldn't be self euthanase , you get someone to do it for you, its murder in this country.
    If you're suffering from dementia , how would you know its time?
    If you could make that decision then you are not unwell enough to do yourself in are you ?
    Jennie
    25th Jul 2014
    3:47pm
    As I said, it's choice that's not for you or your family and that's absolutely OK. I didn't say it was easy to find the right time. I am certainly not talking about "murder." I am sorry to read your family has suffered so much. It's also OK for us to disagree on this issue.
    btony
    25th Jul 2014
    4:03pm
    Thanks Jennie, my point is not about euthanasia or who does it or who suffers, my question is 'how would a dementia sufferer know when the time is right to pull up stumps?'
    Take Care.
    Jennie
    25th Jul 2014
    5:06pm
    As I've already said, it is not easy to find the right time. Dementia is a major, major issue as people live longer. I will observe myself as best I can, ask others I trust to observe me also (and vice versa - a like-minded support group is necessary here), make sure I am comfortable with my choices well in advance, and do my best to learn all I can. As you have probably realised, I have researched the issue of dementia to greater depth than most people and I trust that the knowledge I have amassed now and over the years, plus the results of yet to be done medical research will assist me in timing. However nothing is set in tablets of stone. I may decide to go due to the unbearable pain of arthritis or whatever - who knows. But I prefer to be informed as much as humanly possible than rely on chance.
    Thank you and Take Care also.
    Adrianus
    25th Jul 2014
    8:27am
    If it is no more than 87% accurate why bother?
    At least with a Leukemia Blood Test you can confirm with a Bone Marrow Test.
    Either way regardless of your situation the goal remains the same. Don't waste any time and be happy.
    Blossom
    25th Jul 2014
    10:48am
    My now late Mother had a type of xray or scan that showed the Alzheilmers on 2 occasions, the last being in 2007. The notes with the 2nd one had notes with it saying it was the fast progressive type and the comparisons between the 2 results. The tablets available were started too late to have much impact on her fast deterioration
    Blood Red Dragon
    25th Jul 2014
    12:54pm
    ........and i totally with Jenni ....it is inevitable that the testing procedures will increase their accuracy.....people perhaps have the right to choose not to know.... feels like a kind of opting out though....It is part of our "mission" to know........be brave !
    Jennie
    25th Jul 2014
    1:10pm
    Thank you for your good sense Dragon. Please read my added comment above about choice.
    Blood Red Dragon
    25th Jul 2014
    1:09pm
    ....and "knowing " should take precedence over "not Knowing" . I think this issue raises serious questions about the general direction of our society ...our values....ethics etc and shouldn't be dealt with flippantly.
    Jennie
    25th Jul 2014
    1:17pm
    Yes, and there is a huge issue of how to deal with the cost of a growing aging population with dementia. Knowledge is strength. Putting your head in the sand helps no-one. The rules about entering Aged Care changed on 1st July this year and you can see the trend (DSS website) "Do what's cheapest, costs the aged person and their family the most and call it 'improving care for the aged.'" IF I can avoid Aged Care for me then I will. This will also save the tax payer some money... Sorry if I sound cynical but when you have had experience of dementia in your family, it should/does make you learn and research deeply.
    Blood Red Dragon
    25th Jul 2014
    2:06pm
    ....you are not being "cynical" Jennie......You are the brave one who chooses to know,without knowledge we cannot hope to change a system of unfairness and limited choices Knowledge is also understanding. cheers Jennie
    btony
    25th Jul 2014
    3:06pm
    All they proved was 87% of those tested had the 10 proteins, no result of when they acquired them . Pharmaceutical companies doing research and making claims should always set off alarm bells,their bottom line is to make money and lots of it.
    Jennie
    25th Jul 2014
    5:11pm
    I agree with you on pharmaceutical companies. Have you read "Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients: Ben Goldacre?" It's an eye-opening read. I will add that just because there might be an Alzheimer's test, doesn't mean it will be reliable. You still have to do your own research about any drug or disease and think critically.


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