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Blood test for Alzheimer’s

Investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US are working to develop a blood test that could accurately diagnose or even predict Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms appear.

The tau protein has long been implicated in Alzheimer’s; however, tau occurs as a family of related molecules with subtly different properties. The Brigham team took advantage of the complexity of tau and built assays to measure its different forms. They identified tau proteins specifically elevated in the disease.

Co-author Dominic Walsh said: “A blood test for Alzheimer’s could be administered easily and repeatedly, with patients going to their primary care office rather than having to go into a hospital.

“Ultimately, a blood-based test could replace cerebrospinal fluid testing and/or brain imaging. Our new test has the potential to do just that. Our test will need further validation in many more people, but if it performs as in the initial two cohorts, it would be a transformative breakthrough.”

The test was carried out on two small sets of patients from two different demographics, numbering 65 and 85 participants.

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