(Washington University School of Medicine) — Up to two decades before people develop the characteristic memory loss and confusion of Alzheimer’s disease, damaging clumps of protein start to build up in their brains. Now, a blood test to detect such early brain changes has moved one step closer to clinical use.
Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report that they can measure levels of the Alzheimer’s protein amyloid beta in the blood and use such levels to predict whether the protein has accumulated in the brain. When blood amyloid levels are combined with two other major Alzheimer’s risk factors—age and the presence of the genetic variant APOE4—people with early Alzheimer’s brain changes can be identified with 94% accuracy, the study found.
The findings, published Aug. 1 in the journal Neurology, represent another step toward a blood test to identify people on track to develop Alzheimer’s before symptoms arise. Surprisingly, the test may be even more sensitive than the gold standard—a PET brain scan—at detecting the beginnings of amyloid deposition in the brain. (…)