Blood test can predict Alzheimer's disease three years out at 90% accuracy, researchers announce

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A new blood test that predicts the onset of Alzheimer's disease and mild dementia could lead to more effective management and even prevention of these conditions, according to newly published research.

The study involved 525 participants who were at least 70 years old. They gave blood samples throughout the trial period, and investigators tracked which participants developed Alzheimer's or mild cognitive impairment.

An analysis of 10 lipids in the blood reveals with 90% accuracy which people will develop one of these conditions within two to three years, the researchers discovered. They say this could allow for more effective early-stage interventions and help researchers develop drugs that would “delay or prevent” these cognitive disorders.

"The preclinical state of the disease offers a window of opportunity for timely disease-modifying intervention," said study author Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D., of Georgetown University Medical Center.

The blood test also could be used to help patients and their families prepare for future healthcare needs, Federoff added. He and his colleagues already are designing a clinical trial that would use the lipid panel to test a therapeutic agent, he noted.

Confirmation of the results and further testing are needed before the blood test could be offered to the general public. However, the breakthrough raises questions about the benefits of receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer's prior to the onset of symptoms and without any proven preventive therapy, some observers have noted. There may not be much upside to screening for dementia, prior research has suggested.

The findings appear in Nature Medicine.

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