Blood Test Detects Onset of Alzheimer’s a Decade Early

The newest blood test to detect Alzheimer’s may be able to predict the disease 10 years before symptoms occur with 100% accuracy. Researchers from the National Institute on Aging are focusing on a protein in the brain called IRS-1 that may signal the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s.Blood Test Detects Onset of Alzheimer's a Decade Early

Learn more about this study and what it means for future treatment and prevention methods.

Blood Test Detects Onset of Alzheimer’s

This year has seen the development of a few different types of blood tests that could potentially diagnose Alzheimer’s before symptoms appear. One test uses fats in the blood stream to predict dementia within three years with 90% accuracy, while the other blood test examined blood proteins and was able to predict the onset of dementia within a year with 87% accuracy.

The most recent test promises to detect Alzheimer’s earlier than any other test ever has by looking at a single protein in the brain called IRS-1, which plays a critical role in insulin signaling in the brain and is commonly defective in people with the disease.

Researchers from the National Institute on Aging, who presented the study at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Washington, D.C., gathered blood samples from 174 participants. Of the 174 participants, 70 had Alzheimer’s, 20 had diabetes and 84 were healthy. They found that the participants who had Alzheimer’s had higher amounts of the inactive form of IRS-1 and lower amounts of the active form than those adults who were healthy. The participants who were diabetic had intermediate levels of IRS-1.

The results of the study were so consistent across the board that researchers were able to look at results and predict with 100% accuracy if the person was healthy or had Alzheimer’s.

New Blood Marker Renews Hope for Blood Test to Detect Onset of Alzheimer’s

A recent study from the University of Otago has revealed another blood marker that could help diagnose Alzheimer’s through a simple blood test. Researchers found that participants with a small number of molecules found in the blood and brain called microRNAs can correctly detect Alzheimer’s with 86% accuracy.

The study involved participants that had been diagnosed with the disease, as well as neurologically healthy individuals. Researchers found that three microRNAs were different between the two groups, and detecting these microRNAs would be possible through a simple blood test. Dr. Joanna Williams who led the screening of microRNA in blood samples of participants said, “Although there are other known markers of early Alzheimer’s disease, such as an accumulation of the toxic protein beta amyloid in the brain, testing for these involves expensive or invasive procedures that can’t be used in routine clinical practice.”

Dr. Williams went on to say that, “We know that the levels of these microRNAs differ in people who have Alzheimer’s and people who don’t. So if a GP took a blood sample from a patient who was beginning to show symptoms of memory loss, what we’d do is analyze that blood and see how that patient’s pattern of microRNA compares against established patterns.”

More research is needed before a blood test can be definitively used to diagnose Alzheimer’s, but it is something researchers are working towards. They hope to not only develop a test to detect the presence of Alzheimer’s but also to find early signs of the disease, before symptoms appear, optimizing treatment options for the individual.

A Potential Breakthrough for Prevention and Treatment

Researchers hope that their findings lead to breakthroughs in treatment methods. Senior study author, Dr. Ed Goetzl said:

“My vision of the future is you have your breakfast cereal, and on one side you have a statin for cardiovascular disease, and on the other side you have three pills to prevent dementia.”

He went on to say that, “This study shows that insulin resistance is a major central nervous system metabolic abnormality in Alzheimer’s disease that contributes to neural cell damage. As insulin resistance is a known condition in type 2 diabetes… and is treatable with several classes of existing drugs, these treatments may be useful as part of a multi-agent program for Alzheimer’s.”

The blood test is still in the early stages of development and will require a larger and longer study before it can be used to detect Alzheimer’s. The lead author of the study and neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging, Dimitrios Kapagiannis, said: “We will need replication and validation, but I’m very optimistic this work will hold.”

Do you think the newest blood test is a viable way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • Tom

    Oh, that,s just great….ten more years to worry!

    • Glenda

      No, not ten more years of worry, ten more years to prevent onset or find a cure.

    • thaddeusbuttmunchmd

      Ten more years, OTOH, to fill your “Bucket List.” And, also, to tell your Enemies off-be they personal or political, followed by Suicide. But, don’t do anything Illegal or Violent! ((-;

  • Valerie

    Yes! But, at least it`s a start and providing more hope than ever we had before. Coming from a space where I`ve just this week admitted my husband of almost 50 years

    to a long term care facility after years of caring for him at home, I`d have been better prepared in all ways had we known.

    • BellaTerra66

      Valerie, I know it’s two years later. How is your husband?

  • LoveAndPeace

    YES! And I will volunteer for a study if that will help get it moving faster!!

  • Glenda

    Sign me up! I have type 2 diabetes and have been reading about the possible causal relationship between it and dementia. This inquiring mind wants to know.

    • The causal relationship is not doing everything you possibly can to get your blood sugar and insulin levels back to normal. Type 2 diabetics still make insulin until pretty far into the disease. You CAN get it back under control, though you may have to go outside mainstream medical protocol to figure out how.

  • Jenny

    Sounds so promising! After two generations already going through this dreadful disease, it would be great to know that something to stop it is on the near horizon.

  • SandiO

    This is exciting news! With my being a part of the Baby Boomer generation, that soon will be of age to display the signs of Alzheimer’s, this kind of research needs to be escalated.

  • Connie Dabel

    How do you get to be involved in this study??

  • suz

    I think this is amazing and hope to see more of this. As a young person with great concerns and medical fears I hope to see this be able to work and help people.

  • Abbi

    Is there a way to join the study? My grandmother died but had early onset Alzheimer’s.

  • thaddeusbuttmunchmd

    Olive oil and coconut oil with curry and cannabis infused in it may work Wonders!

    • Leo

      Could you link us evidence showing that cannabis (or its oil) have benefits against Alz/dementia in vivo.
      Curry? Do you mean turmeric? I know patented extracts at high doses, like Longvida, have been shown to slowly reverse amyloid-plaque. Never heard of curry, or curry with coconut/olive oil, helping for these situations.

      • thaddeusbuttmunchmd

        The Coconut oil dissolves the active part of the curry so it is absorbed from the GI Tract. And Coconut (and palm oil) are NOT Deleterious to Health. That is a Myth. As for Cannabis, both CBD and THC are Good for the Brain. Would give the CBD in the Daytime, THC at hour of sleep.

        • Leo

          I understand that the curcuminoid class of compounds found in turmeric are fat soluble, but that doesn’t mean they reach the brain at regular doses. You would have to ingest a massive amount of curcumin-infused coconut oil on a daily for it to have mildly therapeutic effect in the brain, which is why researchers have gone to great lengths to make special products that can achieve those effects. I did more research on the current science for marijuana: THC works for anxiety (but with negative side-effects), and CBD has only been “suggested” as a theoretical herb that may help “theoretical models” of Alzheimers disease. Never has it been shown to help real people, and research into developing any form of viable treatment is not even close…

          • thaddeusbuttmunchmd

            The incidence of AD in India is Quite Low, even adjusting for lifespan. They consume a LOT of Curry (they also don’t eat much meat, and have the Body Mass Index of a SuperModel.) The Greeks live to 82, on average and have about 1/17th the Dementia of the US. The Japanese live Long. On Okinawa, in particular, they are Healthy and Long-Lived, with less Dementia. Green Tea and Olive Oil are Very Healthy. I try to use Both every Day.

          • Leo

            That’s great, I also believe green tea, olives, and turmeric are good for you, but there’s a lot more to the lifestyle and diet in those countries in comparison to the US.

          • MikYas

            A lot of people quote India as low in Alzheimer’s, however a lot of Indian friends told me they have/had it in their families or know someone who does. From what I gathered from them there is no nationwide database in India that collects stats on Alz diagnosed patients, not even city-wide. The term Neurologist in Indian languages is largely unknown and countless villages and cities don’t even have this specialty.On top of that many cannot afford Neurologist checkups even if they were to have access to.

          • thaddeusbuttmunchmd

            Maybe their Neurologists are all practicing here by now.

          • felix1999

            India is not very advance and lacks good health care so many may have it and simply not been diagnosed having the disease.

          • felix1999

            Diet may have some effect on the disease.
            It might be interesting to follow up on Japan. They have decent health care there and not a third world country.

    • felix1999

      Good grief!
      Cannabis gives you cognitive DECLINE after consistent usage! People on it don’t realize it. Others SEE it.

      • thaddeusbuttmunchmd

        A few tokes/day won’t DO that. The Cannabinoids break up the proteins in the Brain that contribute to the disease. It’s also anti-inflammatory.

  • Christa

    How can I get in on this study my father has alzheimers?

  • Gail Wallingford

    My mat. Grandmother had Alzheimer’s, 2 mat. Aunts, my 80 year old mom has Alzheimer’s. 64 y/o has dementia. I’m 65 and afraid I’ll join the group. I want to be tested to know if I have the gene. Which test should I ask my PCP to order for me?

    • Lisa Douthit

      My mother and maternal grandmother, had Alzheimer’s as did at least two of grandma’s 4 brothers. I’m almost 54 (June 13) and am wondering if I should take the test, but worried if I show that I have the gene, if I will be penalized for it by insurance.

      • I don’t think there is a gene for it. That’s not what they test you for anyway. There is also not a gene for type 2 diabetes. The reason these diseases run in families is because families tend to cluster the same bad habits and the same food habits that lead to chronic disease. Alzheimer’s is now thought of in certain research circles as type 3 diabetes. It’s caused. It doesn’t just happen.

        • 2Logical

          Genes that have been associated with type 2 diabetes risk include:

          TCF7L2, which affects insulin secretion and glucose production
          the sulfonylurea urea receptor (ABCC8), which helps regulate insulin
          calpain 10, which is associated with type 2 diabetes risk in Mexican Americans
          glucose transporter 2 (GLUT2), which helps move glucose into the pancreas
          the glucagon receptor (GCGR), a glucagon hormone involved in glucose regulation

          • Cherwyn Ambuter

            Dr. Jason Fung’s work with diabetics demonstrates that epigenetics (the science of how environmental triggers make manifest the genes which offer risk) is real. By incorporating regular fasting into one’s life, people predisposed by their genetic makeup need NOT fear coming down with diabetes. It can be prevented even if one carries the genes. Just stop eating so often! Fast for a time to allow insulin to come down. The beta cells will not give out and blood sugar will lower, and all will be well. Watch his YouTube videos “The Two-Compartment Problem” and “Therapeutic Fasting”.

          • clariseb

            Thank you.

          • MikYas

            Dana is still correct, After all, we are not doomed by our genes. Many
            people born with early onset Alzheimer’s gene end up not developing the disease. And many who don’t have the gene end up with it. What does that prove ? It proves Cherwyn’s point below.

            In Alzheimer’s in particular, one gene goes faulty and it is because it gets negatively affected by environmental factors. Scientists don’t know yet the how of this interaction.

          • felix1999

            That is really weird. My mother has alzheimers. She does not have any form of diabetes, thyroid issues, heart issues or any other medical problems. Her mother had it too with no health issues. I think it is a gene issue.

  • Fred Andersom

    Where is their information to get selected?

    • Rachel Adams

      I,too, would like to know. I want to be tested. Alzheimer’s runs rampant in my family.

      • Jody Aronson

        It runs rampant in my family as well but the test results make me a little nervous, I would have to suck it up and deal with the results!

  • L G

    I truly hope this come to the public soon. It is much better to know you are going to get it or could, than to be wondering every time you forget things on a regular basis…which is mostly normal. My dad had Alzheimer’s, I seem to follow him in a few health issues, which in general is not bad. But, as anyone with a parent who has had this, you worry you will get it too. A blood test for it would be amazing!!

  • jasoul

    Is this test available in India? The thought of getting Alzheimers freaks me out. My mother had it and it was horrible. I don’t want my children to suffer.

  • Vicki Hart

    I would also like to be tested. How do you get tested and where? My father has dementia as well as several members on his side of the family.

  • Please, I need to know if this blood test is available and if so, where can it be taken?. Please email me at [email protected]

    Many thanks

  • Debbie Clay-McCluskey

    I hope the blood test does become available, dementia in any form, terrifies me. Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers had dementia/Alzheimers I ruins my life, the thought of putting my family through what my maternal grandmother put us through, literally scares the living daylights out of me.

  • marc

    I would like to know how this will affect pre selection for Medical Aids risk profiling and how this can be a positive move forward if such information is used to assess cover. I believe the tests have a place in preventative strategies being implemented but MUST not be used to increase a persons Health risk profile for actuarial risk purposes … Unfortunately as a physician and a medical aid member i understand these two are in direct contrast

    • felix1999

      Most likely you will PAY MORE if diagnosed with it.
      They have to get the money for the given situation somewhere when you are no longer considered a “risk” and will actually GET the disease.

  • Eileen

    This country takes way too long to accept the proven knowledge they have for this test to be used by the physicians on their patients, especially those who have genetic history of the disease. Test after test after test to see if the results of the studies are true, please stop this nonsense and put the new found knowledge to work now to help those who need it.

  • Jeff Salisbury

    Can anyone provide a Michigan lab that runs the IRS-1 test?

  • Jeanette Castro-Louis

    My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and she passed away December 22nd 2016. Need to know where I can go to be tested experience memory fog. Thanks Jeanette

    • thaddeusbuttmunchmd

      Creepy! My Father passed exactly one year before your Mom.

  • DNP Student
  • jaime

    j-Me I would love to take this test, knowing it alzheimers affected my grandmother.

  • Lisa Marie Valdes

    How do I get the blood test?

  • thaddeusbuttmunchmd

    The MIND Diet (similar to the Mediterranean, along with physical exercise, is known to stave off most cases of AD.

  • thaddeusbuttmunchmd

    Both Mental Illnesses (Schizophrenia, Bipolar, the Autism spectrum-ALL the Major ones) and Alzheimer’s, may be caused by viruses that infect the Brain. In the Former case, Babies are infected with a retrovirus before they can fight it off. In the Latter, Older folks with weak immune systems have Herpes viruses up there. These viruses have been found in a high percentage of people with those maladies, but not in those without. And, YES, blows to the Brain from contact sports an military service can make you lose your mind early. You want to avoid those.

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