• Neha Jagadish

Breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million Americans and that number is quickly increasing. The disease is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. Symptoms progressively get worse and may interfere with daily tasks (4).

According to Harvard Health Publishing, recent breakthroughs with blood testing prove promising towards diagnosing Alzheimer’s more quickly. A simple blood test can detect beta-amyloid protein buildup, which is linked to Alzheimer’s before the disease’s symptoms appear (1).

At the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on July 29, 2020, new findings of a blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease were announced. The blood test showed high accuracy with a 90% accuracy in detecting chemicals in the blood that are specific to the disease. This has led many to believe that there soon may be a simple way to diagnose the disease (3).

Currently, Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed through memory and thinking skills tests that tend to be imprecise and involve a neurologist’s consultation. Other methods, such as spinal fluid tests, are more reliable but are very invasive and expensive. A simple blood test would be just as accurate, but be inexpensive and easier to give (2).

The new blood test worked by analyzing the amount of brain protein, p-217, in the blood. Scientists and researchers also say that this test can detect the disease at its early stages and people who are at risk for the disease, which all other previous tests failed to do (3).

This new breakthrough could eventually allow doctors to identify patients with the disease and could identify people who are at risk of having the disease, which allows doctors to step in to help those patients. Before the tests can be available to the public, it will need the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and another two to three years to complete research. Overall, the new blood test may lead to a more efficient and affordable diagnosis of the disease.


References

  1. Publishing, H. (n.d.). Blood test may find early signs of Alzheimer's. Retrieved August 16, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/blood-test-may-find-early-signs-of-alzheimers

  2. Steinbuch, Y. (2020, July 28). Scientists celebrate 'breakthrough' blood test for Alzheimer's. Retrieved August 16, 2020, from https://nypost.com/2020/07/28/scientists-celebrate-breakthrough-blood-test-for-alzheimers/

  3. Steven DeKosky, U. (2020, August 14). The Importance of Blood Tests for Alzheimer's Disease Patients: 2 Neuroscientists Explain the Recent Findings. Retrieved August 16, 2020, from https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/26880/20200814/blood-tests-alzheimers-neuroscientists-explain.htm

  4. What is Alzheimer's? (n.d.). Retrieved August 16, 2020, from https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers

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