There have been several breakthroughs in early Alzheimer’s detection this year. This new blood test, however, seems almost too good to be true.
The test claims to be able to detect Alzheimer’s disease years before the symptoms begin to appear. Such an early warning system would not only give patients their best chance of slowing down the disease’s progression, but it would also give scientists more information on how the disease develops, which could lead to better treatments. So how does it work?
Scientists are already aware that, with Alzheimer’s, changes begin in the brain up to a decade before sufferers begin to notice symptoms. This new blood test looks for ‘autoantibody biomarkers’. Regular antibodies are produced by the body’s immune system to fight diseases. An autoantibody is an antibody produced by the immune system that fights the body’s own cells. Many autoimmune diseases are caused by autoantibodies. The blood test looks for ‘biomarkers’ or signs that the body is producing autoantibodies which may be causing harm.
Specifically, the blood test is being developed to detect the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease, which is called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In the trial, samples were taken from a range of participants, including the healthy, those with MCI, those with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, and those with a range of other diseases, to see if the test could be tricked by various conditions.
Using the biomarker detection method, the test was 100 per cent accurate in detecting MCI. It was also highly accurate in detecting later-stage Alzheimer’s, early stage Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and breast cancer.
The researchers who ran the trial have noted that they need to test it again with a larger sample size than the original 236 participants, but the results are very promising. This new method could signal new early detection tests for a range of diseases. It could also give those concerned about Alzheimer’s some peace of mind or, in the worst case, much earlier warning.
What do you think? Would you get tested if it were available?