Sebastian Palmqvist, Oskar Hansson

A relatively simple blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease may reduce the need for more costly, specialized and invasive diagnostic procedures, according to a new study.

Collaborators from Lund University in Sweden and the Roche pharmaceutical company were able to identify an Alzheimer’s blood marker with high accuracy using immunoassays, a commonly used laboratory test. Their study followed about 1,000 participants, including Alzheimer’s patients with dementia, healthy seniors and people with mild cognitive impairment. The immunoassays method was developed by Roche and is fully automated.

The new method, if successful in further testing, is expected to be more cost-effective and accessible than current diagnostic tests, which include spinal fluid sampling and brain imaging, said lead author Sebastian Palmqvist, M.D., Ph.D. 

“These are expensive methods that are only available in specialist healthcare … we have therefore long been searching for simpler diagnostic tools,” he explained in a statement.

Palmqvist and his colleagues foresee the technique being used to improve diagnostics in primary care, allowing more people to get timely treatment for Alzheimer’s symptoms. It could also be used in screening individuals for inclusion in clinical drug trials against Alzheimer’s disease, they wrote.

A major primary care study is planned for the fall.

Read the study