The term “dementia” refers to a broad range of brain diseases that cause long-term, gradual decreases in the ability to think and remember, enough to severely affect an individual’s daily functioning. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which makes up as much as 50% to 70% of dementia cases.
Currently, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is projected to increase to as much as 16 million by 2050 (close to the number of Americans affected by peripheral neuropathy: 20 million). Sadly, there is no cure for this debilitating cognitive disease, but researchers, scientists, and medical professionals are working tirelessly to help combat Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia by any means necessary.
According to Medical News Today, a new blood test could actually help diagnose Alzheimer’s.
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have been developing a blood test for Alzheimer’s that aims to be more accurate, more cost-effective, and less unpleasant than other methods of determining an Alzheimer’s diagnosis early on.
MRI and CT scans can help doctors rule out other health concerns. And the collection of cerebrospinal fluid is effective as well, but these are quite invasive and often very expensive. Blood testing could revolutionize the way Alzheimer’s disease is detected and diagnosed.
“A blood test Alzheimer’s disease could be administered easily and repeatedly, with patients going to their primary care office rather than having to go into the hospital,” said Dominic Walsh, study author. “Ultimately, a blood-based test could replace cerebrospinal fluid testing and/or brain imaging.”
The study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia and explains how the new method will be able to detect various biomarkers of the illness before more obvious symptoms start appearing.
“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,” Walsh added. “We’ve made our data and the tools needed to perform our test widely available because we want other research groups to put this to test.”