A blood test could be introduced in the next three years that can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms occur.
Researchers are currently working on a blood test that could see diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease almost two decades before symptoms show, with up to 98 per cent accuracy reported.
The test is already being hailed as a “potential game-changer”, with hopes the test could be ready in the next three years.
Oskar Hansson, of Lund University in Sweden commented: “I’m very excited. This test, once verified and confirmed, opens the possibility of early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s before the dementia stage.
“If everything works out as we hope I think a blood test can be available in at least some countries within three years.”
Predicted to be cheap, painless and easy to access, hopes around blood test have increased after scientists discovered how to detect protein in the bloodstream – known as p-tau-217.
It is believed the protein in the bloodstream begins to genetically mutate in Alzheimer’s patients prior to the condition showing symptoms.
Depending on what form of the disease is present in the body, it is believed the test will be able to predict between 89 and 98 per cent of Alzheimer’s cases.
Although this is positive news for the future of Alzheimer’s diagnosis, there is still a lengthy process and development that is required prior to the test becoming available on the NHS.
Even so, experts not involved in the research have already praised the test.
“We are now seeing convincing evidence that blood tests really can identify Alzheimer’s disease with high sensitivity – and I believe we will see these entering clinical practice rapidly,” said Professor Nick Fox, of University College London.
Fiona Carragher, director of Research at the Alzheimer’s Society, added: “Excitingly, this blood test for tau appears to not only show signs of being able to accurately distinguish between Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions, but also may detect changes before symptoms even appear.
“A cost effective, accurate and non-invasive diagnostic test is a vital step in developing new treatments for the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today.”