Researcher handling test tubes in a laboratory_lab

Researchers say they’re one step closer to being able to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease using a finger prick blood test. The test has the potential to be used at home and reach more people, they said. One huge plus: It doesn’t have the timing and temperature requirements of traditional blood work, and the results are just as accurate.

The research was unveiled this week at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Amsterdam. 

“Blood tests — once verified and approved — would offer a quick, noninvasive and cost-effective option,” Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, said in a statement.

Blood tests are already being used in trials for their ease of use in screening people for the disease. Some evidence has shown they provide similar results in terms of accuracy when compared to brain imaging scans and cerebrospinal fluid tests — tests that are a gold standard in Alzheimer’s disease detection.

The finger prick test measures neurofilament light (NfL), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and phosphorylated tau (p-tau181 and 217) — key biomarkers related to Alzheimer’s disease.

The team collected blood from the veins and fingers of 77 people in a memory clinic in Barcelona. When they measured the biomarkers, the scientists found that all were detectable in the finger pick samples, and correlated to the findings from standard blood work.

“Our pilot study demonstrates the potential of remote collection and measurement of Alzheimer’s biomarkers without low-temperature storage or extraordinary preparation or processing,” Hanna Huber, PhD, a researcher from the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, who was on the research team. 

Current blood tests require people to have blood drawn by a professional. There are strict time- and temperature-related standards to ensure accuracy. Being able to offer a finger prick test would mean that people could use it at home and have accurate results.