By John Ensor •
Published: 23 Jan 2024 • 8:52
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The fight against Alzheimer’s has had a recent breakthrough with the announcement of a new blood test.
This innovative procedure, developed in Sweden, has shown remarkable potential in identifying Alzheimer’s disease up to 15 years before symptoms appear.
The findings, revealed in a Swedish study and published in the Jama Neurology journal, highlight a blood test as accurate as lumbar punctures in detecting Alzheimer’s.
The study was conducted by Dr Nicholas Ashton and his team at the University of Gothenburg. It involved 786 participants and promises a significant shift in early diagnosis.
This revolutionary test measures p-tau217 protein levels in the blood, indicating Alzheimer ‘s-related brain changes.
It classifies patients’ likelihood of having Alzheimer’s disease as high, intermediate, or low. This categorisation could eliminate the need for more invasive tests, according to Prof. David Curtis, honorary professor at UCL Genetics Institute, University College London.
He stated, ‘Everybody over 50 could be routinely screened every few years, in much the same way as they are now screened for high cholesterol.’ The test, manufactured by ALZpath, is already available commercially.
The introduction of this test could lead to a nationwide screening program for individuals over 50. Prof. Curtis mentioned, ‘It is possible that currently available treatments for Alzheimer’s disease would work better in those diagnosed early in this way.’
He also expressed optimism about developing more effective treatments. The amalgamation of a simple screening test and an effective treatment could have a profound impact on society.
Currently, confirming Alzheimer’s requires a lumbar puncture or a specialised brain scan, available in limited NHS memory clinics.
Dr. Richard Oakley, associate director of research and innovation at the Alzheimer’s Society, remarked, ‘This study is a hugely welcome step in the right direction as it shows that blood tests can be just as accurate as more invasive and expensive tests at predicting if someone has features of Alzheimer’s disease in their brain.’
He also noted the potential for these tests to simplify and speed up diagnosis processes in the future.
In the UK, the Alzheimer’s Society estimates that approximately 900,000 people currently live with the disease, a number expected to reach 1.6 million by 2040.
One in three people born in the UK today is likely to develop dementia in their lifetime. This breakthrough test could be a key tool in combating the growing Alzheimer’s crisis.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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