A blood test for Alzheimer's
Biomarkers are also being tested in Parkinson's and other chronic diseases.
Robert Nagele and colleagues at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine measured a panel of these biomarkers in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease and compared them to a group of people of the same age who don't have Alzheimer's. The test was both highly sensitive at detecting people with Alzheimer's - which means it's unlikely to miss people who have the disease. It was also highly specific, which means the test is unlikely to label someone with Alzheimer's who doesn't actually have it.
Nagele present his latest findings at a meeting of the American Osteopathic Association, as reported in Medical News Today.
Not only does the test allow early diagnosis of Alzheimer's it also offers the possibility of diagnosing Alzheimer's before symptoms appear. That enables the person to make lifestyle changes that could slow down the progression of the disease. These include things like losing weight, getting more exercise as well as getting cholesterol, triglycerides and diabetes under control. A test that affords very early detection would also identify a group of patients who would be good subjects for clinical trials of possible drug treatments.
Researchers familiar with this line of study say that a blood test for Alzheimer's based on biomarkers is considered the holy grail of early detection. Researchers at UCLA reported in March of this year that the test is feasible. But some say not enough people with Alzheimer's have been tested to draw firm conclusions. They say the expertise on testing is confined to a small number of researchers, and that no one knows how well the test will stand up when labs around the world begin doing the test.
Last year, an interest group made up of leading Alzheimer's researchers from academia and from the pharmaceutical industry was formed to developed gold standards on individual blood tests, testing procedures, and how to interpret the tests.
I'm not with cutting edge researchers on this one. I think a biomarkers blood test would be very helpful were effective treatment available. Given the current barren landscape, it is little more than a recruitment machine for drug companies looking for subjects for clinical trials.