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New research claims blood test can predict Alzheimer’s disease

On March 9, 2014 news broke about a new blood test developed by scientists at Georgetown University in Washington DC . They claim the test can predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease with 90 per cent accuracy three years in advance of symptoms appearing.

Published in Nature Medicine, the study identified 10 markers in the blood that are linked to the disease. The researchers discovered these markers by following 525 people aged 70 and over, who initially showed no signs of memory impairment.

This group was given cognitive testing and had blood samples taken over a five-year period. During this time, 28 of the participants went on to develop Alzheimer’s disease, which was sufficient to identify the 10 markers indicating the presence of the disease.

This study is significant because no blood test currently exists to predict Alzheimer’s disease.

What does the Alzheimer Society of Canada think?

This new research increases our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and could lead to other avenues of research bringing us closer to treating the disease more effectively and finding a cure.

However, before these findings can be used as a blood test to pre-diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, they need to be validated in larger sample sizes using different populations.

Ethical questions will also arise if the blood test does prove successful in the future. People will need to decide whether or not they want to know if they are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease and understand the implications.

Find out what Canadian researchers are doing to beat Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and how the Society is supporting them through our Alzheimer Society Research Program.

Related articles

Can a new test to identify the likelihood of Alzheimer's lead to better treatment? (CBC's The Current, podcast)
Blood test offers a chance to predict Alzheimer’s (Globe and Mail)

Last Updated: 07/21/14
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