Is The Alzheimer’s Blood Test Too Good To Be True?

Researchers from two prominent universities have created a blood test that can assess an individual’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The blood test is less painful, less expensive, and more accessible than current methods of assessing risk. In addition, it has the potential to change the future of early Alzheimer’s treatment methods. Is it too good to be true?

Is The Alzheimer's Blood Test Too Good To Be True?

Accessible Assessment of Risk

A new study published in Nature Magazine reports that researchers from Georgetown University and University of Rochester have found a way to evaluate the risk of Alzheimer’s through a blood test. Researchers observed 525 senior adults over a 5 year span. By collecting and examining the amount of 10 different fats in the collected blood, researchers could predict if the individual was at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Over the course of the study, they found 74 adults who showed signs of Alzheimer’s or early Alzheimer’s.

The new blood test is significant in the fight against Alzheimer’s because it is less expensive and less painful that other methods of assessing risk. Currently, expensive brain scans are used to diagnose Alzheimer’s. Another method involves spinal fluid extraction which can be painful for the patient. Perhaps the most significant part of the new blood test, is the potential it has to diagnose Alzheimer’s early which can lead to better treatment options.

Changing the Future of Early Alzheimer’s Treatment

According to Howard Federoff, a professor of neurology and the executive vice president for health sciences at Georgetown University Medical Center, the blood test can determine if a senior might develop Alzheimer’s within the next three years with 90% accuracy

Early discovery of Alzheimer’s is critical to treatment. While heartbreaking, an early diagnosis has the potential to: 

  • Give families more time to plan for the future
  • Give the patient the ability to participate in clinical trials
  • Allow the patient the ability to better report symptoms and concerns
  • Maximize opportunities for independence
  • Give the patient the best chance to benefit from treatments
  • Make life changes that may slow the disease

Is It All Too Good to Be True? 

Some scientists are cautious to accept that the study is representative of a real-world screening population. The study showed a 5% rate of conversion, meaning that 5% of participants went from normal cognition to either mild impairment or full Alzheimer’s disease. If this is representative of the real world, the test has a positive predictive value of 35% and nearly two thirds of positive results would be false. Researchers caution that a positive predictive value of 90% as found in this particular study is the minimum for any kind of screening test.

The test will need to undergo further research before it can be used outside of clinical trials.

But it could be a step in the right direction. Maria Carrillo, vice president of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer’s Association called for more prevention research by saying,

“This field needs better methods to detect Alzheimer’s disease at its earliest time point, to allow us to intervene with potential prevention strategies.”

What do you think about the new blood test? Would you want to find out your risk of developing Alzheimer’s? 

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • blacklab

    I have already been tested with a DNA Swab and have entered into a study because I have Mild Cognitive Impairment and my Mom has End Stage Alzheimer’s right now. Any person that has this horrible disease in their family, should not fear these tests, research studies, and knowledge that they provide. I am happy I learned about it and now I know what I can do to prolong getting the disease and prepare myself and my family for what may come down the road. I am happy to learn that we are finally doing something about Alzheimer’s Disease. It has been a long time coming!!

    • Karen Garabedian

      Is that what they call the test,DNA Swab.

  • Gloria

    Yes, I would definately like to know and plan on taking the blood test. My mother died of Alzheimers, 2 of her siblings have/had it and one neice has it (early onset) and is already in stage 6. In hindsight there were many signs that she had but we had no idea what the symtoms were. Lots of mistakes she made (giving her home away, BIG money mistakes) might have prevented her from lots of hardship.

  • Donna

    Yes! My sister is suffering with alzheimer’s. We suspected our mother had the disease, however, it was not diagnosed as such. I will be 64 this year and have been worried for some time about my memory and sometimes confusion. Although scared of the outcome, I would love to be in a study group. I think that knowledge is power.

  • Daisyjane

    Please consider listening to the interview between Pharmacist, Ben Fuchs and Dr. Joel Wallach on YouTube. The consensus is that Alzheimer’s is a physician induced disease. Caused by statin drugs and the instructions from your doctor to stop eating eggs. Too bad! Listen, learn and heal. M’lady Jane is still going strong at 101. She eats eggs every day and takes Youngevity. Thx Daisyjane

  • mike

    Like so many things, we wait too long to find out how we may live out our lives. Just think that if the tests sorted out relatively accurate patients that might get Alzheimer, then they could develop medications faster to help minimize the disease because they would be starting with patients that have a high level of probability for dementia to Alzheimer’s. Also, it would be a kick in the butt to go out and do as many things as you can before the onset. Make those memories earlier with your family. So many families wait too long to preserve the family history and then the sources are gone, if you find that important to pass on to others. If they find out it is hereditary, then they need to work on the prevention earlier is even more important. Between Alzheimer’s and Diabetes, these two deceases alone will be the largest cost for medicare in the future. If we find out soon enough, it will save a lot of lives, family hardship and money that could be used to start fighting other terminal deceases.

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  • Ann

    I would LIVE a blood test. Doctors keep saying it is not hereditary which I say is BS! My Grandmother had it, my Uncle has it, my Aunt has it and yes… my Mother has it. I don’t believe it is “if” but rather when will I get it. With all medical… early detection is the key!!!

  • Eloisa

    I don’t have anyone in my family that has it or my dad’s family or mom’s family. But I still would like to get the test as soon as I can. I’m 57 yrs old. So I would like to get it real soon. Do I talk to my physician about it? Do doctors know about this test?

  • Kim

    My father had early onset Alzheimer’s – he was diagnosed at 57 but looking back we think it was 3-4 years earlier when symptoms first began. He passed away at age 64- that was 21 years ago. I am 53 now and would really love to know where I might get tested and how. I have researched genetic testing on the web and can’t seem to find where I might be able to get this done. I live about 2 hours east of Dallas, TX. Any ideas??

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