Study Raises Hope for Alzheimer's Diagnosis

Premier Health Now

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Recently, an experimental blood test showed a high rate of accuracy in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, in a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

What does this mean in the quest to better understand, treat and prevent Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia? And how soon may this test enter common medical practice? Premier Health Now asked Fadi Tayim, PhD, Division Chief of Neuropsychology with the Clinical Neuroscience Institute.

“It’s a very positive finding,” says Dr. Tayim. “Research in Alzheimer’s disease is advancing our understanding of the complex nature of the disease. This study’s results are one step further in the right direction towards understanding diagnoses and potential treatment options.”

In the study, the test was administered to 347 people with neurodegenerative diseases and 202 healthy people for comparison. The test proved up to 86 percent accurate in identifying true positives, those with Alzheimer’s, and true negatives, those without.

While that’s a high degree of accuracy, Dr. Tayim says, several years of verifying tests will be needed to make sure results can be reproduced.

The Hope of Early Detection

“What’s really important about this study is shifting the mindset on Alzheimer’s disease, that when Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, it’s too late,” Dr. Tayim observed. A test that could detect the disease early raises the possibilities of “some type of remediation or early intervention to reverse or slow progression of the disease.”

Early identification, he adds, “gives patients and clinicians an opportunity to candidly discuss what options may be available.”

The new test could also be used to monitor cognitive impairment and disease progression in athletes and others who have suffered head injuries, with the goal of tailoring treatment for them.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.