Alzheimer's may be well on its way to being a detectable disease by way of a blood test. The BBC reports on the "major step forward": Researchers at King's College London studied differences in the blood of 1,148 people—476 with Alzheimer's, 220 with mild cognitive impairment, and 452 healthy controls. They zeroed in on blood proteins and out of 26, found 10 that were able to predict which patients suffering from mild cognitive impairment would develop Alzheimer's within the year, New Scientist explains. The predictions were 87% accurate.
These proteins could help doctors develop a blood test that will identify future sufferers more quickly, with doctors indicating that a current hurdle to treating the disease is that symptoms can take a full decade to appear. Still, there is no cure. But as researcher Simon Lovestone points out, he has no option but to tell patients who are worried about what might be happening to them to come back in a year to see if things are worse. "That's grim," he says. Still, he downplays his findings, published in Alzheimer's & Dementia, a bit: "Lots of blood tests said to be the next big thing haven't come to anything—we have to replicate these results with larger numbers." (March saw the announcement of another potential Alzheimer's blood test that makes use of blood fats.)