Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) have found two proteins in the brain through a blood test that can identify Alzheimer’s nearly 20 years before symptoms appear. Researchers believe that this can certainly help detection of the memory loss disease two decades earlier.
The proteins, beta-amyloid 42 and beta 40 were found by researchers in a study conducted on 158 adults who were at least 50-years-old. The test uses mass spectrometry on blood samples to detect the presence of the proteins.
It was found that when beta-amyloid deposits start to build up in the brain, the blood test can detect this change, said the researchers.
However, this blood test is more sensitive at detecting the buildup of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain than the current gold standard, which is a PET brain scan.
The study involved 158 adults who were at least 50 years old, and all but 10 had normal cognitive function. Each participant underwent blood test and a PET brain scan. The team of researchers classified each test as either amyloid positive or amyloid negative, and 88% of the time, the results agreed with each other.
The researchers wanted to find if they could refine these results, however, and improve the blood test's accuracy. They looked at major Alzheimer's risk factors such as age, a specific genetic variant, and biological sex. While the latter did not affect the accuracy of the results, the other two factors significantly improved it.
Dr. Randall J. Bateman, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Distinguished Professor of Neurology, WUSM, said that with a blood test, scientists could potentially screen thousands of people a month.
“That means we can more efficiently enroll participants in clinical trials, which will help us find treatments faster and could have an enormous impact on the cost of the disease, as well as the human suffering that goes with it,” he added.