(RxWiki News) A blood test shows amazing accuracy in detecting Alzheimer's disease, which could help patients with dementia achieve earlier diagnosis and be able to better plan for the future.
An estimated 5.3 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer's disease, a form of dementia that causes the deterioration of memory, affecting thinking and behavior. It is the most common form of dementia and primarily arises in the elderly, although it is not restricted to old age. Early-onset Alzheimer's also appears as early as the age of 40. There is currently no cure.
Early diagnosis is key in order to improve quality of life and make important decisions concerning the future before symptoms worsen. Fortunately, scientists may have come up with a blood test that will detect Alzheimer's disease.
The blood test operates on the idea that certain proteins become modified in the presence of disease. Recognizing disease-specific modifications in proteins could help in early diagnosis. However, identifying those proteins has been difficult.
Thus, a new approach has been taken that instead looks for antibodies present in patients with specific diseases. Their tests successfully identified blood samples in mice that showed distinctions between those that were healthy and those with a specific disease.
Further testing allowed the scientists to identify three randomly selected, unnatural molecules called "peptoids" that point to Alzheimer's disease in blood samples with surprising accuracy.
The methodology still needs to be perfected and tested in a variety of patients. The usefulness of such a test is also questionable, since there is no treatment or cure for Alzheimer's. The findings do, however, imply that such a test could be used to detect other diseases and improve their survival rates. Early detection of cancers would be a dramatic and life-changing breakthrough.
Thomas Kodadek, one of the conducting researchers, is hopeful that such a blood test could even aid in the development of vaccines to help people fight cancer.