New blood test could 'diagnose Alzheimer's' years before symptoms are spotted

The blood test looks for amyloid beta proteins that lead to Alzheimer's <i>(Image: PA)</i>
The blood test looks for amyloid beta proteins that lead to Alzheimer's (Image: PA)

A new blood test has been developed that claims it could diagnose Alzheimer’s years in advance before symptoms start to show.

The test detects amyloid beta proteins, which clump together and kill neurons, The Metro reports.

These can form over decades, but usually, the disease is only diagnosed once symptoms are showing and it's too late for treatment to target it.

As reported by The Metro, senior author Professor Valerie Daggett, of Washington University in Seattle, said: "What clinicians and researchers have wanted is a reliable diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s disease.

"One that confirms a diagnosis and can also detect signs of the disease before cognitive impairment happens.

The Argus: A blood test could find evidence of a build-up of amyloid beta proteins
The Argus: A blood test could find evidence of a build-up of amyloid beta proteins

A blood test could find evidence of a build-up of amyloid beta proteins (Image: PA)

"That’s important for individuals’ health and for all the research into how toxic oligomers of amyloid beta go on and cause the damage that they do.

"What we show here is SOBA (soluble oligomer binding assay) may be the basis of such a test."

In a trial of more than 300 people, SOBA detected amyloid beta clumps in the blood of ten who showed no signs of cognitive impairment when it was collected.

All were diagnosed years later with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) – memory problems that can lead to Alzheimer’s.

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These sorts of results could offer hope of medications or lifestyle changes being prescribed when they are most likely to be effective.

Additionally, it may pave the way for national screening programmes to help people get diagnosed earlier.

The researchers are working with colleagues at AltPep, the university’s spinout company, to develop SOBA into a diagnostic Alzheimer’s test for oligomers.

Professor Daggett added: "We believe SOBA could aid in identifying individuals at risk or incubating the disease, as well as serve as a readout of therapeutic efficacy to aid in development of early treatments for Alzheimer’s disease."