In a major breakthrough in the world of medical research, researchers claimed to have developed a way to identify people at high risk of cognitive decline or Alzheimers within 3 years through a simple blood test.
The study heralds the potential for developing treatment strategies for Alzheimers at an earlier stage, when therapy would be more effective at slowing or preventing onset of symptoms.
It is the first known published report of blood-based biomarkers for preclinical Alzheimers.
The test identifies 10 lipids, or fats, in the blood that predict disease onset. It could be ready for use in clinical studies in as few as two years and, researchers say, other diagnostic uses are possible.
The study’s corresponding author Howard J. Federoff, professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center, explained that there have been many efforts to develop drugs to slow or reverse the progression of Alzheimers disease, but all of them have failed.
The study included 525 healthy participants aged 70 and older who gave blood samples upon enrolling and at various points in the study.
Over the course of the five-year study, 74 participants met the criteria for either mild Alzheimers disease (AD) or a condition known as amnestic mild cognitive impairment (AMCI), in which memory loss is prominent.
Of these, 46 were diagnosed upon enrollment and 28 developed AMCI or mild AD during the study (the latter group called converters).
In the study’s third year, the researchers selected 53 participants who developed AMCI/AD (including 18 converters) and 53 cognitively normal matched controls for the lipid biomarker discovery phase of the study.
The study is published in journal Nature Medicine.