Scientists Report Success on Blood Test for Alzheimer's

Study suggests procedure could eliminate the need for brain imaging or painful spinal taps
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2022 12:39 PM CST
New Blood Test May Make It Easier to Detect Alzheimer's
Stock photo.   (Getty/digicomphoto)

A new blood test has the potential to make it easier, cheaper, and less painful to diagnose Alzheimer's. Researchers writing in the journal Brain say their test fared well in a study involving 600 patients in picking up a telltale marker of brain neurodegeneration, per a news release. A larger study is now being planned to confirm the results. Under current medical protocol, doctors use a combination of brain imaging and analysis of cerebrospinal fluid to diagnose the disease. The first is expensive—and smaller hospitals may not have the equipment—and the latter is painful because it requires a procedure commonly known as a spinal tap, reports Engadget.

The new test may be able to avoid all that. While blood tests already in use can detect two of the three markers of Azheimer's—"abnormal accumulations of amyloid and tau proteins," per the Guardian—they're less effective at picking up on neurodegeneration. The new test, however, reliably detected "brain-derived tau," a biomarker linked to such degeneration. "A blood test is cheaper, safer, and easier to administer, and it can improve clinical confidence in diagnosing Alzheimer's and selecting participants for clinical trial and disease monitoring," says lead author Thomas Karikari of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. (A new drug being developed also holds promise for patients.)

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