Doctors frequently use a combination of brain imaging and cell analysis to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. However, these methods can have drawbacks. Cell analysis, also known as a lumbar puncture or spinal tap, involves inserting a needle into the lower back to extract a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for testing. This procedure can be invasive and painful. MRI scans are less invasive, but they can be costly and may not be available in all areas. Both methods can be used to identify signs of progressive nerve cell loss and excessive accumulation of amyloid and tau proteins, which are indicative of Alzheimer’s disease.
Blood tests are a useful tool for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, but they have limitations in detecting the signs of neurodegeneration. However, a new blood test developed by a team of researchers from Sweden, Italy, the UK, and the US may change this. The test, which was recently described in the journal Brain, uses antibodies to detect brain-derived tau proteins specific to Alzheimer’s disease. In a study of 600 patients, the test was able to accurately distinguish Alzheimer’s disease from other neurodegenerative conditions. This development could potentially improve the accuracy and reliability of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease and selecting participants for clinical trials and disease monitoring.
Dr. Thomas Karikari, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and co-author of the study on the new blood test for detecting Alzheimer’s disease, believes that the test has the potential to improve the design of clinical trials for Alzheimer’s treatments. He stated that the blood test is more cost-effective, safer, and easier to administer compared to current methods, and it can enhance clinical confidence in diagnosing Alzheimer’s and selecting participants for clinical trials and disease monitoring. However, before the test becomes widely available, the research team needs to confirm that it is effective for a diverse range of patients, including individuals from different ethnic backgrounds.