A new blood test could potentially be used to predict a patient’s risk of Alzheimer’s Disease by detecting minute amounts of a certain substance within the blood, Science News reports.
These tests look for a specific protein known as amyloid-beta within a person’s blood plasma. These proteins can sometimes build up in a person’s brain forming what’s known as plaques. The presence of plaque in the brain is linked to Alzheimer’s, though there had previously been few options to discover them prior to showing symptoms outside of procedures like brain scans.
Utilizing this new test, however, could help to detect the disease in its earliest stages and alert those to the level of risk they’re in for contracting it. Less invasive than a spinal tap, the results of these latest experiments seem to conclude that this blood test is effective at identifying the amyloid proteins, confirmed based on the similar results to a previous experiment in 2017.
There is, however, currently no significant benefit to these tests. At present, there is no treatment or cure that can be administered to prevent or slow the onset of Alzheimer’s, so finding out a person is at risk prior to symptoms appear does not actually help them overcome the disease. It could, however, help doctors in developing a new cure, as it will be easier than ever before to observe patients immediately prior to the onset of the disease, as well as providing an opportunity to work with the amyloid-beta proteins prior to becoming a plaque.
Despite this, researchers are hard at work researching a cure. While this new blood test will provide few benefits in the short term for Alzheimer’s patients, it could prove instrumental in finally discovering a way to effectively treat the disease at some point in the future. In the meantime, doctors are doing their best to refine and simplify the testing procedure to make it more consistent and affordable.