Dear Commons Community,
While most of the attention in medical testing in recent months has been on finding effective diagnosis and vaccines for coronavirus, another medical testing breakthrough appears to be on the horizon. A newly developed blood test for Alzheimer’s has diagnosed the disease as accurately as methods that are far more expensive or invasive, scientists reported yesterday, a significant step toward a longtime goal for patients, doctors and dementia researchers. The test has the potential to make diagnosis simpler, more affordable and widely available. As reported by the New York Times.
“The test determined whether people with dementia had Alzheimer’s instead of another condition. And it identified signs of the degenerative, deadly disease 20 years before memory and thinking problems were expected in people with a genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer’s, according to research published in JAMA and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
Such a test could be available for clinical use in as little as two to three years, the researchers and other experts estimated, providing a readily accessible way to diagnose whether people with cognitive issues were experiencing Alzheimer’s, rather than another type of dementia that might require different treatment or have a different prognosis. A blood test like this might also eventually be used to predict whether someone with no symptoms would develop Alzheimer’s.
“This blood test very, very accurately predicts who’s got Alzheimer’s disease in their brain, including people who seem to be normal,” said Dr. Michael Weiner, an Alzheimer’s disease researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study. “It’s not a cure, it’s not a treatment, but you can’t treat the disease without being able to diagnose it. And accurate, low-cost diagnosis is really exciting, so it’s a breakthrough.”
Nearly six million people in the United States and roughly 30 million worldwide have Alzheimer’s, and their ranks are expected to more than double by 2050 as the population ages.”
Really good news for those who might be vulnerable to this horrific disease!