Blood Test Appears Promising In Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease Before Onset of Symptoms

A new blood test is showing “high accuracy” in screening for Alzheimer’s Disease markers, before the onset of symptoms according to a study published in JAMA Neurology this week. The study involved testing blood for a key biomarker of Alzheimer’s, a protein called phosphorylated tau or p-tau21, which increases at the same time as other damaging proteins — beta amyloid and tau — build up in the brains of people with the disease.

The study found a simple blood test to be up to 96% accurate in identifying elevated levels of beta amyloid and up to 97% accurate in identifying tau.

Currently the only testing for these build ups in the brain can be performed with a brain scan or spinal tap, both of which can be inaccessible and costly.

Last year, Quest Diagnostics brought a blood test assessing beta amyloid protein to market for consumers. Quest said it is not meant to diagnose Alzheimer’s but rather assess a patient’s risk of developing the disease.

Because there are no cures for Alzheimer’s Disease unlike something like cancers the early screening currently has limited benefits experts caution. There are some drugs like Leqembi that have recently received FDA approvals, that treat early stage Alzheimer’s Disease, patients with an early diagnosis could benefit from. In studies published last year, Leqembi slowed the cognitive decline of patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. It is a monoclonal antibody that targets the amyloid protein, believed to play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s.


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