Researchers say they have moved closer to developing a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease.
Such a test would enable doctors to diagnose patients at the earliest, most treatable stage so patients could make lifestyle changes that may slow progression of the brain disease, reported the team at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, N.J.
“There are significant benefits to early disease detection because we now know that many of the same conditions that lead to vascular disease are also significant risk factors for Alzheimer’s,” lead researcher Robert Nagele said in an association news release.
The scientists focused on use of autoantibodies in the blood as biomarkers for the presence and stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Autoantibodies are immune proteins that mistakenly attack the body’s own cells.
The findings were presented Sunday at an American Osteopathic Association meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Currently, there is no approved blood test for Alzheimer’s, an incurable brain disease that affects about 5.3 million Americans. With this disease, the brain begins to change years before symptoms emerge.
“People found to have preclinical disease can take steps to improve their vascular health, including watching their diet, exercising and managing any weight and blood pressure issues to help stave off or slow disease progression,” Nagele said.
The blood test under development by Nagele and his colleagues also shows promise in detecting other diseases, including Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and breast cancer, they said.
Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about Alzheimer’s disease.