Artist's representation of amyloid beta plaques on brain nerve cells

A blood test that predicts early Alzheimer’s disease brain changes will be key to recruiting a wide range of at-risk participants for a new clinical trial that aims to prevent memory loss,  researchers say.

PrecivityAD is a commercially available test involving a small blood sample taken in the clinical setting and then processed in a lab. Newly released data show that it has 81% accuracy in predicting levels of amyloid beta in the brain when compared with standard diagnostic brain scans. Amyloid beta is a component of brain plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s. 

The upcoming clinical trial, called the AHEAD study, will test an investigational treatment for preventing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease before they become noticeable, the Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials Consortium announced in a Thursday press release.

The blood test will help participating research centers identify potential trial participants who are likely to have Alzheimer’s brain changes — and therefore are more at risk for developing the disease.

When compared with a relatively expensive and invasive diagnostic scan, the researchers believe that using a simple blood test may lower barriers to participation in clinical trials, “especially among communities of color, which are historically underrepresented in Alzheimer’s trials,” the consortium said.

The AHEAD study currently is enrolling people between the ages of 55 and 80 in North America. It is funded by the National Institutes of Health and pharmaceutical company Eisai Inc.

The blood test PrecivityAD hit the commercial market in October 2020.