A Simple Blood Test for Alzheimer's
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blood test for alzheimer's

You probably know someone who has Alzheimer’s because one out of every three elderly Americans die from it. And while heart disease deaths fell more than ten percent the last fifteen years, deaths from Alzheimer’s jumped over one hundred percent. If we could diagnose Alzheimer’s and dementia earlier, we could not only slow or stop their symptoms but save nearly three hundred billion dollars a year in medical costs, a huge help for burdened families.

One recent study is getting us closer to a blood test to diagnose the disease early. It measures levels of a protein that shows up in the blood when nerve cells in the brain are damaged or die. This protein is called neurofilament light chain or NfL and what’s amazing is that measuring changes of this protein in the blood over time can predict future dementia onset up to sixteen years before symptoms appear.

In order to measure Nfl, researchers in the study chose to study people who carry a gene for early onset Alzheimer’s and compared them to relatives who don’t carry the trait. They took spinal fluid and blood samples from both groups over many years and measured their Nfl levels every one to three years. The Nfl was significantly higher at about seven years before symptoms appeared, but researchers could detect elevated levels nearly seventeen years prior.

The test is far from ready for commercial use since this study only focused on people with genetically acquired Alzheimer’s. Researchers will need to see if it works on those who develop Alzheimer’s sporadically. If it does work, imagine a yearly physical where a blood test could warn you of dementia decades down the road and what you can do now to change its course. That’s powerful!

For more information…

Blood Test May Predict Alzheimer’s Progression
A blood test predicted disease progression and brain neurodegeneration at very early stages of familial Alzheimer's disease, researchers reported...

Serum neurofilament dynamics predicts neurodegeneration and clinical progression in presymptomatic Alzheimer’s disease
Neurofilament light chain (NfL) is a promising fluid biomarker of disease progression for various cerebral proteopathies. Here we leverage the unique characteristics of the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network and ultrasensitive immunoassay technology to demonstrate that NfL levels in the cerebrospinal fluid (n?=?187) and serum (n?=?405) are correlated with one another and are elevated at the presymptomatic stages of familial Alzheimer’s disease...

Blood test detects Alzheimer's damage before symptoms
A simple blood test reliably detects signs of brain damage in people on the path to developing Alzheimer's disease—even before they show signs of confusion and memory loss, according to a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Germany...