There's good news for the senior community. A new blood test may be able to detect whether people will develop Alzheimer's disease about a decade before its onset. This test would be able to detect the condition far earlier than any test currently available, Bloomberg News noted.
A long road ahead
The Alzheimer's Association stated that approximately 5 million Americans are living with the condition. Someone in the U.S. develops the disease every 67 seconds. Having the ability to detect this condition early on could be life-changing.
The researchers noted that the test will need several more trials and replications before being put on the market. Currently, it's in the very early development stages and has only been tested on 174 participants. Trials for the test are being sponsored by NanoSomiX, a biotech company from California that mainly focuses on neurodegenerative diseases. The company hopes to create a commercial version of the test that can be distributed more widely for patients.
The test was presented for the first time on Nov.16 at the Society for Neuroscience Conference in Washington state.
This isn't the first test associated with early detection of Alzheimer's - two others were presented earlier in the year.The first measured 10 different types of fat found in the blood that can predict dementia three years before its onset. The second examines 10 proteins to detect the condition within a year of its development. During this study, the NIA scientists uncovered a single protein that plays a role in insulin signaling and is abnormal in people with dementia.
In their research, the study authors took blood from 20 seniors with diabetes, 70 people with Alzheimer's and 84 healthy adults. Of all of the Alzheimer's participants, 22 gave blood one to 10 years before they were diagnosed.
Noticing the differences
The researchers mainly focused on small sacs known as exosomes, which help carry messages to cells and tissues in the body. They highlighted only exosomes in the brain, which contain the protein involved in insulin signaling. The results showed that Alzheimer's patients had more inactive than active forms of the protein, unlike the ratios observed in healthy people. The diabetes participants had intermediate levels.
The results were very consistent, allowing the study authors to predict which type of patient the blood came from solely by examining the exosomes.
The test's developers, from the National Institute of Aging, are very hopeful about what this might bring. They believe that the test could identify the illness in people much earlier in their progression to Alzheimer's, which would allow them to participate in clinical trials that could lead to new treatments and reduce the growing need for Alzheimer's care. Initial research has shown that the test can already set apart patients with the condition and healthy seniors with 100 percent accuracy.